Former Shepherd boss in talks with partners and investors over founding private sector venture

Vaughan Burnand, the former chief executive of Shepherd Construction, is hatching plans to establish his own construction business.

According to sources close to the situation, Burnand and two business partners are in talks with potential investors and clients about the venture, which would initially be based in the north of England.

One source said: “They’re talking to quite a few people but hope to have something tied up before the end of the year.” His partners are also understood to have construction backgrounds.

Burnand left £718m-turnover Shepherd last October amid speculation that his exit was linked to a loss-making student accommodation project in Nottingham. Burnand has since dismissed the claim and said he left over a disagreement with the main board of Shepherd Group over the way the construction business was run.

In April this year, Burnand took over as chairman of Constructing Excellence and this week was linked to the chief construction adviser’s job, a role the government said it would fill by November (page 9). If successful in his bid to land the job, it is understood the construction business could take a back seat.

Burnand refused to comment on the speculation he was setting up a business, but said: “Since I left Shepherd I’ve looked at a number of opportunities.”

It is understood the new firm would work in the private sector with a select group of clients, who would also be non-voting shareholders. The source said: “They want to provide a bespoke service whereby clients can take a stake in the business, get their own auditors in and take a share of the profit.”

Burnand is also believed to be working on other possible ventures, including a logistics company and a contractor specialising in nuclear decommissioning.

Rising through the ranks

Most recent roles:
1986–90 regional estimator, John Laing Construction
1990–92 Leeds regional director, Laing Yorkshire
1992–99 chief estimator, Shepherd Construction
1999–2000 procurement director, Shepherd Construction
2000–01 managing director, MSS Clean Technology
Nov 2003-Oct 08 chief executive, Shepherd Construction