Cruden Group

ONS figures highlight ‘challenging’ market and ongoing skills shortage

Allan Callaghan

Cruden Building has repeated its call for moves to help increase the number of people working in construction as latest figures revealed a further drop in output in the sector.

Findings from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) today have shown that output continued its recent decline in the three-month on three-month series in January 2018, contracting for the ninth consecutive period, falling by 1%.

The ONS attributed the fall predominantly to the continued decline in private commercial work, which fell by 4.1% in January 2018.

Construction output also decreased in the month-on-month series following growth in the final two months of 2017, contracting by 3.4% in January 2018.

Compared with January 2017, construction output decreased by 3.9%, representing the biggest month-on-year decline since March 2013.

New orders decreased by 25% in Quarter 4 (Oct to Dec) 2017 following a record high in the previous quarter, caused by the awarding of several high-value new orders relating to High Speed 2 (HS2).

Despite the fall in Quarter 4 2017, total new orders increased by 4.3% in 2017, reaching the highest total since 2008, at £55,130 million.

Allan Callaghan, managing director of Cruden Building, said: “These figures reflect the challenging market conditions and an ongoing skills shortage, which many in the industry, Cruden included, have been signalling for some time now, despite our own hard-won growth figures.

“In order for Scotland’s construction industry to reverse falling output figures, we need to increase the number of people choosing to work in the sector. The Federation of Master Builders recently reported that construction apprentices earn more per year than many of their university graduate counterparts, demonstrating the positive outcomes this career route offers young people in Scotland.

“At Cruden we are proud to introduce many new workers to the diverse range of opportunities this sector offers through our annual apprenticeship programme.  We are about to recruit an additional 15 new apprentices across a variety of trades and skills and they will become part of the 50 strong team of apprentices that we train every year.”

The Scottish division of partnership housing provider Lovell predicted a positive outlook for the business in 2018.

Regional managing director for Scotland, Stephen Profili, said: “There is a continuing urgent need for more housing across a range of tenures in Scotland, not least in the affordable housing sector where we are already more than 18 months into the Scottish Government’s five-year target of delivering 50,000 new affordable homes by 2021.

“Lovell’s commitment to long-term partnership working means we are ideally placed to make a real and meaningful contribution towards helping the Scottish Government to achieve that target. We look forward in particular to making important progress on that front this year.”

Finding a different pathway to my successful career in construction

Elaine Perratt

Elaine Perratt shares her 33-year journey from office temp to assistant health and safety manager at Cruden Buildings & Renewals Ltd.

When I was at school, I wasn’t academic; the thought of going to university had never crossed my mind. I applied for a nursery nursing course and was accepted, so I was looking forward to a leisurely summer before starting the course in September.

My mum, however, had other ideas! She took me job-hunting, and we found a vacancy on what was then known as a YTS scheme, for an office junior with housebuilder and construction company, Cruden Buildings & Renewals Ltd. I thought it would be a perfect way to get some experience and money over the summer, and it turned out that I loved working in an office.

When September approached, I told Cruden that although I was enjoying my job, I was due to start my college course, and my position with them was only temporary.

Cruden, as an employer, prides itself on finding a pathway to a career for all of their staff.  They offered me a full-time role as an office junior where I would have the opportunity to progress and develop in the company. I jumped at the chance, and what teenager wouldn’t welcome the full time salary?

A dizzy 33 years later, I am still with Cruden. Over the years I have worked in many roles and departments, including accounts and estimating, working with suppliers and helping with tenders. Then, a position came up as an administration manager in the health and safety department, where I initially typed up reports that the health and safety manager was carrying out on site. My manager then suggested it would be easier if I came out on site with him, so I could see what he did behind the scenes.

“Statistics show that at a typical health and safety seminar or event, in a room full of 100 people, only five will be women.”

Elaine Perratt

Once out on site, my manager could see how interested I was in what he was doing, and suggested I sit my NEBOSH general certificate, which is a globally recognised health and safety qualification. I attended a 16-week course on day release at Motherwell College, which Cruden paid for. At the end of the course I sat two exams and successfully gained my qualification.

It was after this that my manager suggested I consider a degree in health and safety. Never in my wildest dreams had I ever imagined getting a degree, but I had really enjoyed my NEBOSH general certificate, so I was delighted to give it a try. My managing director was extremely supportive, explaining that Cruden would help me in any way they could, including giving me time off for studying. My diploma also allowed me to fast track straight into second year of the course.

I attended university for one day a week. At the same time, I was promoted to health and safety assistant, a role which involved carrying out site inspections, checking signage and carrying out risk assessments. I really enjoyed the combination of classroom learning and on-site experience. After three years, I gained my BSc in Occupational Safety and Health, which was a very proud moment.

Even after all these years, I still love working in construction. My favourite part of my job is knowing that I’m getting everyone home safely. It’s good to get people to look at the bigger picture – cutting corners might save someone ten minutes, but an injury could keep them off work for weeks, or even months.

Statistics show that at a typical health and safety seminar or event, in a room full of 100 people, only five will be women. I’ve been lucky that I’ve never experienced any problems with being a woman in construction. Part of that is down to the culture within Cruden – from the top down, everyone supports each other. We are like a big family. Cruden already has an all-female purchasing department, which is quite rare within the construction industry.

There is still work to be done in addressing the sometimes negative perception of the industry. For example, we often visit primary schools to talk about the safety aspect of construction sites, but I feel that more could be done to encourage children into careers in construction at the same time.

I would encourage anyone, male or female, who is considering a career in construction to go for it. My experience has shown that in this industry, even if you don’t start out with qualifications, with the right attitude and a supportive employer you can still have a long-lasting, fulfilling and varied career.

Catch up with the rest of Scottish Construction Now’s International Women’s Day feature here.

An apprenticeship can be the start of an amazing career

Jennifer Gibson

Integrated Management System (IMS) assistant, Jennifer Gibson, hopes Cruden Buildings and Renewals Ltd’s ‘Pathway to Employment’ programme can take her to the top.

When I left school, like so many other teenagers I had no idea what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. I didn’t have the qualifications to get into university, so I ended up working full time in a shoe shop. I didn’t take long to realise that retail was not the career for me, so it was fortunate that I heard from a family friend about an opportunity to become an apprentice painter. Sick of the sight of feet, I jumped at the chance – and it was the best decision I could have made.

My apprenticeship was with Cruden Building & Renewals Ltd, and I soon found that I loved honing my new painting skills while working out on site. Everyone was really welcoming and supportive, and although as a girl I was definitely in the minority, I can honestly say I was never treated any differently because I was female.

During the final year of my four-year apprenticeship, Cruden offered me the chance to go to college to do an HND in Construction Management. This is part of their ‘Pathway to Employment’ programme which is design to nurture and grow talent from within the organisation. They supported me throughout my studies, allowing me two and a half days off work every week to attend, and also by paying for the course. When I gained my HND and Cruden then offered to put me through university, I was delighted. I’ve always been conscious about the environment so I chose to do a degree in Environmental Management.

“My hopes for the future are to eventually progress into the role of Environmental Manager.”

Jennifer Gibson

Although it was a four year course, my HND qualification allowed me to fast track straight into second year. Again, Cruden let me attend my university course at Glasgow Caledonian University for half the week, while working with them for the other half. I was very proud to graduate with a BSc Honours degree last year.

The tremendous support I have been given by Cruden is testament to how much the company believes in developing its employees. The Cruden Academy is a continuous programme of investment in employees which includes their full modern apprenticeship programme, lifelong learning, training and distance support as well as further education support. Around 300 people work here, including joiners, bricklayers, plumbers, painters and labourers. Many have been here for a long time and have moved up the career ladder successfully. There’s no doubt there is a skills shortage throughout the construction industry, and by focusing on recruiting, retaining and investing in their employees, Cruden is very cleverly making sure they have a pipeline of talented and skilled employees who are loyal to them.  In recognition of this, Cruden has been awarded Investor in People Silver Standard and Investors in Young People Gold Standard and their modern apprenticeship programme has reached 70 apprentices at the moment, so it’s a win-win situation for everyone.

I now work in the Integrated Management System department where I am involved with various matters concerning the environment, quality control and health and safety. Although I’m mostly office based, I visit sites to carry out carbon footprint reports, waste reports and recycling reports which I provide to senior management. I look at the volume of emissions that the company produces, including staff commuting to and from work, how much energy and water we use, and how we recycle our waste. I feel very lucky that I’m getting the chance to help the environment and help the company work smarter at the same time.

My hopes for the future are to eventually progress into the role of Environmental Manager.

At school I didn’t consider a career in construction at all, and only got into the industry by good luck. If we want to address the skills shortage, I think it’s important that companies get the message out more widely about the exciting roles that are available in this sector, especially to girls, and at an early age.

I think it’s also vital for young people to realise that if they don’t get into university or college straight from school, it doesn’t mean that they can’t build a successful career. For me, an apprenticeship was the right path and I feel incredibly lucky that I’ve been given these opportunities. There is no way that I would have been able to support myself through college and university on my own. Without my apprenticeship at Cruden, I might still be stuck in that shoe shop!

Catch up with the rest of Scottish Construction Now’s International Women’s Day feature here.

Cruden Group gets a brand makeover

(l to r) – Iain Hunter, site manager; George Bagan, asst site manager; Craig Stevenson, painter and decorator, Audrey Sanders, sales executive; Glen Sancroft, asst site manager and Stuart Dick, customer care foreman.
(Image: Ian Jacobs)

Scottish property development and construction group Cruden has undergone a £100,000 total brand review and unveiled its new logos and taglines for its various subsidiary companies and website to support its continued growth following the east coast operation’s recent office move to South Gyle, Edinburgh.

The firm said its new brand identity reflects the group’s “commitment to provide the very best services whether that is in; homes, construction, renewables or innovation in order to its customer needs”.

The new website which has also launched – will seek to increase Cruden’s online presence and help to communicate with current as well as prospective customers and existing partners.

After a competitive pitch process Story UK, based in Edinburgh were chosen to lead the rebrand and digital activities.

Cruden Group CEO Kevin Reid said: “It is important that Cruden retains its established values but at the same time develops a new and modern identity. The rebranding exercise ensured that we got the right message out there and it allowed us to reflect internally on our own ethos and cultures – so it was a valuable exercise. We felt it was important to let people know what Cruden stands for going forward and our new tagline ‘Firm foundations, flexible thinking’ signifies our commitment to these principles.

The landscape for the property market is constantly changing and we recognised the need for change. We feel that during a time of growth its right to invest further into our marketing strategy to create an even stronger brand presence both on and offline. We have worked closely with our staff and stakeholders. Together with Story UK we developed a brand identity that represents what Cruden is about, which is ultimately about serving our clients in the best way that we can. The rebrand and launch of the new website reflects our evolving ambitions.’

Sue Mullen from Story UK said: “Story were delighted to be working with Cruden on their rebranding. We undertook a complete 360 review across the whole organisation Cruden Homes East and West as well as their construction divisions operating under the Cruden and Hart banners, involving stakeholders from across the whole business. The challenge was arriving at a brand positioning, look and feel that would work across the whole organisation and different offerings. The result not only aligns all aspects of the business but really represents how Cruden do business. Cruden have 75 years in the industry, years of experience and expertise but essentially they are all about solutions not problems – hence the new brand positioning ‘firm foundations flexible thinking’ and for Cruden Homes ‘firm foundations, flexible living’. It was a hugely collaborative project to work on from the start and I think the end result really reflects that.”

Call for collaboration as UK construction output continues recent decline

Allan Callaghan

Allan Callaghan, managing director of Cruden Building, said cross-party efforts are required to mitigate the continued effects of skills shortage and the ongoing threat of Brexit after output in the UK construction sector contracted for the eighth consecutive three-month period.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said that the 0.7% fall in output during the three-months to December is the third consecutive quarter of decline and represents the most sustained fall in quarterly construction output since Quarter 3 (July to Sept) 2012.

Responding to the figures, Mr Callaghan, said: “It’s been a challenging time for the construction industry, and margins are constantly being squeezed. However, in contrast to construction output falling over recent months, housebuilding continues to hold its own and is thriving in Scotland, as reflected in our own strong forecast for 2018.

“Yet, this is no cause for complacency. Recent research by the CITB shows that we need at least 10,000 new workers over the next five years simply to marginal growth. Across the wider construction industry, the skills shortage and ongoing threat of Brexit continues to erode confidence and drive down productivity.

“It’s time to put politics aside and combine private, public and cross-party efforts to address these challenges in a collaborative and creative way. At Cruden we’re doing our part by proactively investing in future talent, but more needs to be done at an industry-wide level to plug the widening skills gap.”

Despite falling in both the three-month on three-month and quarter-on-quarter time series, construction output grew in the month-on-month series, increasing by 1.6% in December 2017.

The estimate for construction growth in Quarter 4 2017 has been revised up 0.3 percentage points to negative 0.7% from negative 1% in the preliminary estimate of gross domestic product (GDP), which has no impact on quarterly GDP growth to one decimal place.

Despite experiencing three consecutive quarterly declines, construction output in Great Britain grew by 5.1% in 2017 due to strong growth at the end of 2016 and in Quarter 1 (Jan to Mar) 2017.

Cruden Homes starts on two new East Lothian developments

A view of the new Abbey Gardens development at Old Craighall

Housebuilder Cruden Homes has commenced construction at two new developments in East Lothian.

Abbey Gardens at Old Craighall near Musselburgh will comprise 32 properties for sale, in a mix of four-bedroom semi-detached and detached family homes and two-bedroom cottage flats along with 12 affordable homes in a mix of one and two-bedroom cottage flats. All the property styles have been designed exclusively for the location.

Heading east along the coast to Aberlady, Cruden Homes has also commenced construction at Meadowside, a new residential development located to the west of the village.

Cruden’s Meadowside development at Aberlady

Meadowside will comprise 81 properties for sale in a mix of three, four and five-bedroom homes along with 26 affordable homes in a mix of one and two- bedroom cottage flats and two and three-bedroom terraced and semi-detached houses, again all designed exclusively for the location, with open green space and linkages to the existing village and beyond.

A new junction through the site to connect Kirk Road with the A198 will minimise the disruption to protected trees located along the roadside boundary, which are an important part of the character of the coastal route and the western approach to Aberlady.

Hazel Davies, sales and marketing director of Cruden Homes, said: “Cruden Homes has a long and established history in East Lothian and we are absolutely delighted to be now underway at two new developments in this hugely popular location. East Lothian is not only a great place to visit, it’s a great place to live and work and we are in no doubt both our new developments at Old Craighall and Aberlady will be very popular with homebuyers.”

Latest output figures paint mixed picture for UK construction

Allan Callaghan

Output in the UK construction sector has contracted for the sixth consecutive period in the three-month on three-month time series but increased month-on-month in November, official figures have revealed.

The latest output figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) found that the three-month on three-month output fell of 2% in November 2017, representing the largest fall since August 2012.

There were three-month on three-month decreases in both all new work, and repair and maintenance, which fell by 2.1% and 1.7% respectively, although private housing new work grew by 1.2%.

Despite the overall three-month on three-month fall, construction output increased by 0.4% month-on-month in November 2017.

The month-on-month increase in construction output occurred as a result of a 0.5% rise in repair and maintenance, and a 0.4% increase in all new work, the ONS said.

Allan Callaghan, managing director of Cruden Building, said: “It’s disappointing to see a fall in output activity in the sector.  In contrast, at Cruden we are seeing continued confidence in the housing market and have already secured a strong order book for 2018.

“Although access to skilled labour and rising material costs remain industry-wide concerns, quality, affordable homes are in high demand and it’s encouraging that the Scottish Government has placed housing as a top priority, with a commitment to build 50,000 affordable homes in Scotland by 2021.

“The construction industry is vitally important to the Scottish economy and key its sustained growth will be investment in future talent. We continue to play our part through our Cruden Academy. This continuous programme of investment in our employees’ lifelong learning and training, coupled with and our successful modern apprenticeship programme, ensures that we have a solid pipeline of skilled employees to help us face any challenges and take advantage of new opportunities in the future.”

Construction output contracts for sixth consecutive period

crane-stockOutput in the UK construction sector has contracted for the sixth consecutive three-month period, falling by 1.4% in October, new figures have revealed.

Output in the Construction Industry statistics, released today by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), found that the three-month on three-month fall in output stemmed from falls in both repair and maintenance, and all new work, which fell by 3% and 0.6% respectively.

Construction output also contracted month-on-month in October 2017, decreasing 1.7%, in part due to a 1.5% fall in all new work.

On a positive note, new orders saw record growth in Quarter 3 (July to September) 2017, growing by 37.4% compared with the previous quarter. The record growth was driven predominantly by growth in the infrastructure sector, caused by the awarding of several high-value new orders relating to High Speed 2 (HS2).

Housing new orders also grew in Quarter 3 2017, increasing by 9.5%, recovering from a fall of 4.2% in the previous quarter.

Blane Perrotton, managing director of the national property consultancy and surveyors Naismiths, said: “What began as a cooling is fast turning into a deep freeze. The loss of momentum has caused the construction sector to suffer its sharpest fall in quarterly output for more than five years – and this is eroding confidence too.

“The picture is especially bleak on the commercial property side. Months of false dawns on Brexit negotiations have whittled away confidence and left many businesses feeling punchdrunk.

“Against a backdrop of seemingly perpetual flux, businesses have understandably postponed big investment decisions, and we’re regularly seeing larger companies activate Brexit contingency plans and smaller firms mothball plans to scale up their premises.

“Even residential construction – so long the industry’s star performer – declined, revealing the scale of the task facing the government as it seeks to stimulate a wave of new housebuilding.

“Nevertheless there are some bright spots. On the front line we’re seeing consistent appetite among developers to convert office buildings into residential units under the extended and popular Permitted Development Rights.

“November’s increase in interest rates has yet to fully filter through and developers are still finding funds available. But finance is increasingly coming from the challenger, rather than high street, banks.

“This greater caution among the mainstream lenders is likely to set the tone for the industry as a whole as 2017 limps across the line.

“Last night’s Brexit deal may have unblocked the negotiations for now, but as long as confidence and clarity are lacking, the construction industry will continue to make halting progress at best.”

Mark Robinson, Scape Group chief executive, added: “After almost a year of slower growth in a climate of uncertainty the industry could now be turning a corner. Although output was down again in October, a record boost in new orders in Q3 means a strong pipeline of new work. Infrastructure and particularly HS2 activity has been the key driver of this increase, with potential benefits for the whole supply chain along the first phase of the route.

“Infrastructure investment provides long term certainty and stability for both the economy and the industry, but the government should work with the National Infrastructure Commission to ensure a joined-up approach on delivery. The pipeline of new projects must be undertaken in a sustainable way, avoiding peaks and troughs, to help to ensure capacity and alleviate pressures on the availability of skills.

“Now that the government has made some significant progress on Brexit negotiations and can move on to trade talks, the underlying economic uncertainty around Brexit will also begin to be addressed.”

Allan Callaghan

Allan Callaghan

North of the Border, Allan Callaghan, managing director at Cruden Building, said the recently published Planning Bill needs to provide a catalyst for the growing need for new homes.

He said: “Although construction output as a whole has fallen again this month, new orders for housing have grown and the demand for more housing across Scotland – both private and affordable homes, remains strong.

“Key to addressing this need will be investing in planning and other statutory approvals and having adequate resources from planning departments to deal with all applications, rather than stifling housing developments, leading to delays in construction companies starting on site.

“While the proposals unveiled in the Planning Bill have gone some way in moving in the right direction, the Bill simply doesn’t go far enough.  Local authorities are hugely under resourced and if we don’t have the right processes in place to speed up the system, this will threaten the scope of future development right across the country and exacerbate the problem for young people who are struggling get on the property ladder.”

Cruden begins £9.3m revamp of former east end hotel

Councillor McLean (pictured far right) and the team behind the development

Councillor McLean (pictured far right) and the team behind the development

A multi million pound transformation of a historic Glasgow building into new east end homes with begins in earnest with the redevelopment of a former hotel in iconic Monteith Row close to Glasgow Green.

The street has an important place in Glasgow’s rich history and dates from 1891.

Now Thenue Housing is preserving the building by turning it into new flats and also building new ones in a project costing £9.3 million.

Councillor Kenny McLean, city convener for neighbourhoods, housing and public realm at Glasgow City Council, got the work underway on a visit to Monteith Row.

Forty nine new flats are being created with building work scheduled to be completed in 2019.

Monteith Row was once home to well-heeled Glaswegians in the 19th century.

One of its remaining buildings – the former Monteith Hotel which is named after a former Lord Provost – will form the centrepiece of the development.

Its new lease of life and additional flats is the latest housing boost from Thenue and is the third development of new homes the housing association has announced in the last nine months.

It brings to £23.6 million the amount of money Thenue is spending on giving people new homes in this location, in Bridgeton and in Castlemilk. The total number of homes being built is around 120. The development is being built by Cruden Building.

Charles Turner, chief executive of Thenue Housing, said: “This is an important step forward in bringing much-needed new homes to the east end.

“Monteith Row is an iconic Glasgow street and preserving a much-loved building by creating modern, energy-efficient new homes will be greatly welcomed by the community.

“We are grateful to Glasgow City Council and the Scottish Council for contributing to the cost of this significant project. Without them it simply would not have been possible.

“It is wonderful that a building with such a rich historical connection to the city is being given a new lease of life.”

Councillor McLean said: “It is great to see work beginning on these 49 new homes in this famous building on a historic Glasgow street. This will be an interesting and attractive development, located close to the city centre, and I’m sure will be enjoyed by the new residents when work is complete.

“The council is pleased to work with Thenue Housing Association, and all of our other partner housing bodies, to deliver high-quality new homes such as these across the city.”

Allan Callaghan, managing director of Cruden Building, added: “We are delighted to work with Thenue Housing to deliver this landmark development of much needed quality, affordable housing in Glasgow’s east end.

“This development will also breathe new life into a once-great city building, the Monteith Hotel, as we convert it into modern, energy efficient homes which will overlook Glasgow Green. During this development, we will be working with local suppliers and providing valuable training opportunities to the local community.”

Thenue and college partnership receives £5000 boost to help people learn

Cruden Building director Gordon Lee and Wendy Kilshaw who has just completed the latest Learning Works course

Cruden Building director Gordon Lee and Wendy Kilshaw who has just completed the latest Learning Works course

Opportunities for jobless people to learn new skills have been given a £5,000 boost from generous construction firm Cruden Building.

The company has dug deep to deliver the cash injection to assist Thenue Housing and Glasgow Kelvin College which work together to help unemployed people.

This week Cruden Building handed over a cheque which will now be used to fund Thenue Housing’s award-winning Learning Works initiative.

Working in partnership with Glasgow Kelvin College in the trail-blazing project, the free course has helped hundreds of jobless people find a pathway to success with a job or further learning opportunities.

The donation from Cruden will help underpin the future of Learning Works and contribute to other learning initiatives from Thenue.

Remarkably, almost 240 people have been through the free course which has just completed its 21st intake. Course 22 will soon be underway.

Learning Works is aimed at unemployed people in the area of Glasgow served by the regeneration agency Clyde Gateway and offers learning across a range of specialisms. These include computer skills, the importance of goal setting, personal development as well as the opportunity to brush up on literacy and numeracy.

It is all designed to make individuals as appealing as possible to potential employers and to defeat joblessness.

Allan Callaghan, managing director of Cruden Building, said: “At Cruden Building, we don’t just build quality, affordable homes, we create and become part of the local community.

“We are passionate about nurturing and growing talent within our own organisation, so we’re delighted to support the Learning Works programme and help local people gain invaluable skills through this fantastic initiative.”

Thenue Housing chief executive, Charles Turner, praised Cruden for the donation and added: “This money will help people to keep on learning and give many more the chance to gain new skills and ultimately get a job.

“We are extremely grateful to Cruden Building which shares our vision of helping communities at grass roots level. Learning Works has been a shining example of how organisations working together can transform people’s lives.”

Glasgow Kelvin College vice principal, Alan Inglis, said: “We are delighted to once again be involved in recognising the achievements of the remarkable students on this hugely worthwhile programme.

“The success of the Learning Works groups underscores the value of working together to support learners as they achieve success.  We feel privileged to be part of this dynamic partnership and are grateful to Cruden for their generous contribution to the programme.

“Congratulations go to all the learners who are here today, and to the dedicated staff who have supported them on their journey. Our thanks go to Thenue Housing Association for their continued trust and confidence and we look forward to working as closely with you all in the future.”

Lawrence McCabe, community regeneration manager at Thenue, added: “Helping people back into the workplace so they can earn a wage and improve their lives is vitally important. We are delighted at the support this initiative has been given by Cruden Building.”