Australian contractor sets out ambitious plans to win market share – without acquiring any of its rivals

Australian developer Multiplex is planning a programme of aggressive investment to double its UK turnover to £800m over the next five years.

Noel Henderson, Multiplex’s global construction chief executive, said the firm would aim to expand its UK constructing business organically, as it had in Australia.

He said the growth would come from large projects, in particular PFI hospitals and prisons, and regeneration projects.

However, Multiplex has adopted an acquisition strategy for its development business, which is less established in the UK.

Henderson said that the company’s £2.1bn purchase of developer Chelsfield last month had been a success. Multiplex teamed up with the billionaire Reuben brothers and Australian developer Westfield to make the purchase.

Henderson added that the firm would grow through the completion of developments such as the Stratford City regeneration development in east London and the Cricklewood regeneration programme in north London.

Henderson said: “We see regeneration work as a major opportunity here and believe that we can add value to projects.”

Last week Multiplex acquired a 50% stake in the £3bn mixed-use development in Cricklewood in conjunction with developer Hammerson.

The firm paid retail park owner Pillar Property £18.6m for its stake in the project, which will have up to 5500 houses, shops, leisure facilities and 4.3 million ft2 of offices.

Developer Hammerson and Multiplex will jointly manage the project, with Hammerson in charge of the commercial element and Multiplex in charge of residential.

Henderson said Multiplex intended to pursue work linked to the London 2012 Olympic bid. He said he would bid for the contract to build the London Olympic stadium, should the capital be chosen to host the games, using the firm’s experience gained from the Wembley Stadium project.

Henderson added that he also intends to oversee Multiplex’s expansion into Europe. Having won the contract for a £1.5bn mixed-use development in Gibraltar, designed by Foster and Partners, he said the company was now in a strong position to make more successful bids.

He added: “The way we grow is to build a large contract in an area and then expand around it. We don’t need to buy a contractor and we have not done so in the company’s history.” Multiplex had always preferred to buy property companies, he said.

He said that the firm planned a large increase in its staff numbers, boosting the 300 already employed in the UK.