Paul Chandler to go after seven years as firm rejigs division

Wates Construction executive managing director Paul Chandler is leaving the business at the end of the year as the firm carries out a rejig of its operating structure.

Chandler, who joined Wates in 2017 after more than three decades at Skanska, will be replaced by Steff Battle, currently managing director in Wates’ construction division, who will join the Wates executive committee at the beginning of next month.

The construction arm, Wates’ biggest and which last year had a a turnover of £1.2bn, is being expanded to include its Smartspace fit-out and refurbishment business, which is being moved out of its property division, while its M&E arm, SES, is leaving construction to become its own standalone division.

Paul Chandler

Paul Chandler joined the firm in 2017

Turnover at SES last year was up 73% to £299m and Wates chief executive Eoghan O’Lionaird has previously said the business was proving to be a trump card for the firm.

Rob Clifford, current managing director of SES, will become its executive managing director on 1 July.

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Paying tribute to Chandler, O’Lionaird said: “The business has thrived under his leadership, increasing revenue and profit, providing opportunity and employment to more and more people and increasing its positive impact on the local communities it serves.

“Wates is on a strong trajectory and we are excited for the years ahead. While we know this will be a period of change for the business, we believe moving Smartspace into the Construction Group and setting up SES Engineering Services as its own business division will stand us in good stead to continue our record-breaking growth.”

Last year, Wates’ revenue topped £2bn for the first time in its 127-year history to end up at £2.2bn, a rise of 15% on last time. Pre-tax profit was up by one third to £46m.