Developer teams up with computer software giant to offer 30% cost reductions as two rivals agree merger.
developer Stanhope has announced that it is launching an electronic marketplace as the first signs of consolidation in the e-commerce market emerge.

Stanhope has teamed up with Microsoft and e-marketplace provider Commerce One to launch a business information and construction services portal called The move comes as US construction portals Cephren and Bidcom have decided to join forces to avoid duplicating services (see box).

Peter Rogers, the chairman of Asite and a director of Stanhope, said the new portal would cut 30% off building costs. The website will begin by offering online materials procurement and a project document management service but will eventually cover all aspects of procurement, including tendering.

Rogers also said the e-construction site will provide information on codes of practice, standard building formats and where to get the best insurance deal. "The idea is to bring together a fragmented industry," he said.

Rogers said that he was not concerned by the planned merger between Bidcom and Cephren but added: "It would be naive to say we are ignoring the competition. The market is not saturated, as the amount of volume going through these sites is slim.

"It is always dangerous being the boys out front, and with our industry it is a disadvantage. We are keen to get our ducks in a row." will launch a pilot website next year. The site will be opened out to the whole industry in the last quarter.

The target turnover for the first year is £300m of construction products being managed through the website.

Rogers says that the first users of the site should save 10% on their construction costs. Savings will improve when all the services are up and running.

Stanhope is targeting clients and large specialists such as mechanical and engineering contractors, and firms providing concrete, cladding, and ceilings and floors.

The cost of using the system will be based on transaction fees for online procurement, membership fees to access data, and specific licensing fees for the project collaboration tools.

First construction e-merger

Bidcom and Cephren have announced they will merge to form Citadon and launch an online procurement service in Europe next year. The US portals currently have a portfolio of 1200 projects worth a total of £76bn around the world. The new portal will fuse the similar online services offered by the two firms, which include a project collaboration tool and an online procurement service, which is only available in the USA. UK clients will continue to use the services provided by each firm individually until the merger goes through.