Contractor ploughs £2.5m into new firm Inspace and aims to build up turnover to £50m in four years.
Willmott Dixon aims to break into the London interiors market with Inspace, a new firm in which it has invested £2.5m.

The company, to be headed by Willmott Dixon’s London construction chief John O’Neill, intends to offer a design, space planning and construction service.

It already has £25m of interiors work transferred from the construction business, and hopes to expand this to £50m in four years.

Willmott Dixon chief executive Colin Enticknap said Inspace would be happy to work on any contractual basis, whether for a fee or lump sum, and wanted to build up a reputation as a service provider, rather than as a contractor.

He said: “If an occupier asked a computer solutions company to help, the first question would not be ‘what form of contract can we work to?’, it would be ‘what can we do for you?’. We want to offer the same sort of service.” Willmott Dixon aims to win £5m-10m of interiors contracts, but will be happy to carry out smaller contracts for as little as £200 000.

Some interiors contractors have grown rapidly during the 1990s and have turnovers of more than £100m, but Enticknap said Inspace’s targets would be more modest, as it wanted to establish itself in the market without taking big risks.

The firm is to be based in north London and will look for work exclusively in the capital at first. It expects much of its early work from clients who want to revamp offices to meet IT requirements. O’Neill said IT could often act as a bridgehead to other work.

Willmott Dixon, a private company with a turnover of £255m in 1998, is in talks with other companies that can assist it in installing IT, furniture, fittings and equipment and for space planning advice.

The plan is also to offer clients free workshops, using these specialists to assess interiors needs.

Rivals are intrigued by Inspace but sceptical as to whether a contractor can transfer new-build and refurbishment skills to the specialised world of interiors.

Rick Willmott and Steven Dixon, who are on the main board, will join Enticknap on the board of Inspace. O’Neill, operations director Ciaron McGill and pre-construction director Terry Stick will also be on the board.