Carillion arm Schal has restructured following a strategy review led by managing director Terry Chapman
The firm, best known for high-profile construction management projects such as the Royal Opera House and Tate Modern, has now been split into five divisions (see factfile).

Chapman, who officially became managing director last month, said Schal had switched focus from an exclusive concentration on construction management.

He said: "If you wanted to call us anything – it might sound trite – we are a solutions business.

"I don't want us to be seen as just in construction management. We are not abandoning or moving away from it, but it's not the complete capability of the firm."

Chapman, who joined Schal from Mace in 1999 and was formerly operations director, said the review had led Schal to aim for more of a balance between public and private sector work. He added that the firm had questioned whether chasing high-profile construction management work, some of which was criticised, was a good strategy.

He said: "We reached a crossroads about two years ago. We asked ourselves whether major projects were good for business. Did they make us more efficient, or more profitable? Without those basic ingredients you don't have a business."

Schal's change in emphasis echoes that of Mace, which last year declared that the construction management market was in decline because of the drop in commercial work. Chapman said that although construction management work had dried up in the past two years, the skills used were still in demand.

He said: "Clients don't tend to want strict construction management, they want hybrid solutions. But they still want construction management skills, such as empathy with the end-user, openness and collaborative skills."

Chapman said Schal's continuing strength in construction management was borne out by the fact that it narrowly missed out on the £250m Broadcasting House redevelopment for the BBC. The firm was pipped to the post by Bovis Lend Lease.

Chapman said: "It was indicated it was a close call (the decision). That gives testament that we can compete with the best."

Chapman added that the 200-strong firm, which turns over £20m annually in fees, was more profitable now it shared services with parent Carillion.

Take five: Schal’s new divisions

  • PPP Working with parent Carillion’s private finance unit in sectors such as health and defence
  • Local authority and social housing Building on a successful contract with Barking and Dagenham council in east London to upgrade housing stock
  • Consultancy and project management Offering advice to public and private sector clients on large-scale regeneration and retail schemes
  • Traditional construction management Schal is still working on CM jobs for clients such as BAA and BT
  • Risk-bearing construction management A hybrid form of construction management whereby the client can decide to switch to fixed-price deal during construction