Cyril Sweett's Francis Ives wins the prestigious award in 2008

QS Champion

Francis Ives

First there was the Northern Rock disaster. Then the plummeting house sales, the City blacklisting of virtually any firm associated with construction, and the small matter of a string of bank collapses. No, for the last year, the square mile hasn’t been a happy haunt for construction bosses – unless you’re Francis Ives.
Francis Ives

Being the first businessman to take a company in your sector into the public glare of the stock exchange is, at any time, something of a challenge. But to do so successfully in the current climate, as Ives has done with Cyril Sweett, is a truly remarkable feat. Since the firm’s listing a year ago, it has made four acquisitions, seen profit grow by almost 30% and is on course to hit a £100m turnover in 2010 – double that it had when it listed in 2007.

Throughout, Ives has acted as a role model for businessmen in the sector and beyond: ambitious but not reckless, and always among the first to adapt to tumultuous market conditions – redistributing resources swiftly from the commercial and retail sectors to publicly funded projects. Cyril Sweett, by the way, is now a third of the size of housebuilding giant Taylor Wimpey if you go by market capitalisation – and its management has far fewer sleepless nights.