Construction manager brings UK staff to new office in bid to cash in on Irish boom.
Construction manager RGCM is planning to send consultants and subcontractors from Britain to the Republic of Ireland in a bid to keep labour costs down at its new Irish office.

The company says it needs to bring in UK staff because of a shortage of skilled labour in Ireland.

Croydon firm RGCM wants to use British-based specialists in areas such as groundworks, cladding and structural steelworks where the shortages of labour are most acute.

RGCM's office, which opened a fortnight ago, is a joint venture with project manager Green PM.

It will offer project management and construction management services to clients in the retail and commercial sectors.

RGCM project manager John Hodges was keen to emphasise that the company would not use British subcontractors for every job. "We have to be careful because we don't want to just bowl in and take all the work. If local trades can fulfil our needs, we will use them." However, he added that the cost of labour for some Irish trades was now high enough to justify the extra cost of bringing staff from abroad.

"Where there is a shortage of labour, rates have increased to a point where you can actually sustain an enhanced rate from the UK," he said.

RGCM decided to launch the joint venture after its market research showed a demand for construction management skills. In particular, UK retailers and developers that wanted to expand into Ireland were keen to find an alternative approach to general contracting and design-and-build methods.

Hodges said there was very little construction management work being carried out in Ireland at present.

The joint venture will offer a range of services to blue-chip clients intending to build offices, warehouses and shops. "We could do everything from feasibility studies to project management to full construction management. We need to raise our profile to get a foot in the door," he said.

Hodges said the idea for the new venture came when Green PM boss Brendan Colivet spotted the opportunity and realised he needed to add construction expertise to his business.

Hodges said: "Brendan could only buy the land and sell it on. He needed a proven track record in construction as well." Green PM, which works with developers to put schemes together, has benefited from the Irish boom that has been spurred by European Union funding and tax breaks for inward investors. The Irish government recently announced a £40bn investment in roadbuilding, transportation and housing.

Colivet, who left RGCM two years ago to start Green PM, returned to his old employer to develop the idea.