Yuanda Europe managing director says firm looking to expand market share

Chinese skyscraper specialist Yuanda is aiming to become one of the top two cladding contractors in Europe, the firm has revealed.

Speaking to Building, Alistair Lazenby, managing director at Yuanda Europe, said the firm was seeking to expand its market share after recent major wins in London.

Yuanda won its two largest ever London contracts last year, to clad the 47-storey Cheesegrater tower (pictured) and the 40-storey 100 Bishopsgate building.

Our curtain walls are produced in China to European standards

Alistair Lazenby, Yuanda Europe managing director

Yuanda’s parent company, China-based CNYD, has grown rapidly since its creation 19 years ago into one of the world’s largest cladding contractors, turning over £1bn.

But Yuanda - which set-up its European headquarters in Basel, Switzerland in 2008 - is still establishing itself in Europe, against more established European rivals Permasteelisa, Schneider and Lindner.

Lazenby, in his first full interview with the UK press, said Yuanda Europe was competitive on price because of low labour and materials costs at its 10 million ft2 manufacturing facility in Shenyang, north China, which produces all CNYD’s curtain walls for overseas projects.

But he said there was no compromise on quality: “Our curtain walls are produced in China to European standards.”

Yuanda completed its first major job in the UK in 2010 on the cladding for the Park Plaza Westminster Bridge hotel.

Industry experts, including the Construction Products Association, have predicted an increase in Chinese entrants into the UK market over the next few years.

In June 2011 Chinese firm Neri & Hu won a contract to redevelop Bow Street Magistrates Court in Covent Garden, thought to be the largest UK win to date for a Chinese architecture practice.

News of Yuanda’s expansion plans came as China’s state-run investment fund bought a 8.7% stake in the holding company that owns Thames Water - thought to be the sovereign wealth fund’s first investment in the UK.