New division to target jobs worth £150m with firm lined up for next major phase of Canada Water scheme

Wates has set up a major projects division as part of a wider restructure at its construction business.

The firm’s four existing construction divisions – North, South, Central and London – have been pared back to North and South along with major projects.

Wates said its major projects division, which will include jobs worth £150m or more, had been set up in the wake of its biggest ever project, a £450m gigafactory scheme in Sunderland which it began last year.

The firm is also building out the largest plot at British Land’s Canada Water site with its scheme, called A1, consisting of three office blocks and a 35-storey residential tower.

Canada Water low res

Wates is building a 35-storey residential tower at British Land’s Canada Water scheme

Building understands Wates has also won the next major deal at the east London development, a £150m scheme called Printworks, which involves turning a former 1980s newspaper printing facility into a mixed-use office and cultural scheme under plans drawn up by Hawkins Brown which were unveiled last month.

Wates declined to comment but the job is expected to sit under the firm’s major projects division which Paul Chandler, executive managing director of construction, said had been set up “in response to the scale of our projects increasing over recent years”.

He added: “Creating a dedicated business for our biggest projects prevents their scale distracting our regional teams, so they can focus on delivering exemplary service to our other projects across the country. It will give us a platform for our business to grow both our teams and order book, allowing us to target even larger and more complex projects.

“As well as delivering projects already in the pipeline, we will be targeting other nationally strategic and complex projects in both the public and private sectors.”

Major projects, which has created 100 new jobs, will be led by Eddie Tribe while the North will be headed by Dave Saville and the South led by Phil Shortman.

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The North will cover the North-west, Yorkshire and North-east and the Midlands regions while the South covers London, the South-east, South-west and the Home Counties.

Chandler said the average size job Wates now carries out is £43m and added: “The larger, more complex nature of our work today demands that we structure our business to prioritise efficiency and collaboration, which is why we’ve simplified our regional structure and created a dedicated major projects division to manage the nationally strategic projects which make up an increasing part of our portfolio.”

He said the firm’s workload has risen 20% this year with Wates also understood to have recently won a £50m refurbishment scheme in London’s Bloomsbury Square called Victoria House, which involves turning an office block into a life sciences hub for Canadian developer Oxford Properties.

Sir James Wates was last week formally replaced as chair of Wates after 40 years with the business. Wates’ cousin Tim, who joined the firm in 1993, was appointed chair at the company’s annual general meeting.