Willmott Dixon

Profits jump underlines focus on contracting for Willmott Dixon

Rick Willmott

Willmott Dixon has reaped the rewards of focussing on its core construction and fit-out business with another jump in profits and turnover.

In its first full results since the demerger of Be Living and Fortem subsidiaries at the beginning of 2017, Willmott Dixon has reported a 14% jump in pre-tax profits to £35.5 million for the year to December 31 2017 on turnover up to £1.3 billion from £1.22bn.

Group chief executive Rick Willmott believes the simplification of Willmott Dixon’s business model will be replicated throughout the sector.

He said: “Since Willmott Dixon demerged Be Living and Fortem at the beginning of 2017, we’ve made great progress in our strategy to focus solely on our primary capability of being a constructor of choice for our customers. This is especially the case as we can provide access to procurement routes and solutions tailored to meet their needs for value and efficiency.

“The move to focus on our core business of construction and fit-out is consistent with what I think will be a general trend towards de-layering and simplification of business models in the construction sector. We have chosen to clearly structure our business around core competency, working with customers to ensure we deliver not only great capital projects but also social value and community benefit working through the best supply chain partners. It gives us the shape and balance to continue being well placed to respond to inevitable future changes in how our industry operates.”

Mr Willmott added: “One way we are moving forward in how we serve customers is our ability to add real value through long-term, repeat-business relationships through our place on major frameworks like Scape Group’s National Construction Framework and the Southern Construction Framework.

“This will be further enhanced by our recent selection by Places for People’s Procurement Hub as sole contractor on its newly created Major Projects Framework, which has the potential to deliver £2.5bn of construction work over the next four years.

“A big focus of our work through these frameworks is supporting SMEs and strengthening local economies, with our company able to take a collaborative approach to supply chain selection with each customer. For example, on our current work with Scape, around 80% of project spend is with companies based within 40 miles of the project, while 90% of overall project spend is with SMEs.

“In terms of best value for the public purse, single source frameworks also provide particular benefits in that they give customers a streamlined, consistent procurement process to gain access to experienced contractors already officially vetted for quality, durability and competitiveness.”

On being one of only six companies in the UK to win a Queen’s Award for Enterprise in the category of Promoting Opportunity through social mobility, Rick highlighted Willmott Dixon’s wider goal to strengthen society’s well-being.

He said: “I firmly believe we have a purpose beyond profit which is to use the culture and values of our organisation and the energy, passion and commitment of our people to improve the life opportunities of people.

“Last year, nearly 80% of our people took part in some form of activity that left a positive legacy in their community, with almost 50,000 work time hours spent on activities aimed at improving the life chances of people. This equated to over one% of our people’s work time devoted to supporting others, equivalent to £900 invested per employee and £1.95m overall. Through the Willmott Dixon Foundation, we aim to improve the life chances of 10,000 young people by 2020.”

Talking about how Willmott Dixon plans to tackle the diversity challenge in construction, Rick added: “Our future growth is reliant on attracting, retaining and developing the very best talent and for us that means properly addressing the gender gap. We are making big strides with encouraging more women to enter the industry by reaching out to millennials; 38% of Willmott Dixon’s 2017 management trainee intake – our future leaders – were women.

“However, we’re still missing out on a huge pool of untapped talent, and that’s why we aspire to achieve gender parity by 2030. Creating a more diverse workforce is a strategic priority for Willmott Dixon.”

Talking about other industry factors for the year, Rick said: “We are mindful of the challenges created by the effect of Brexit on our supply chain’s work force and the impact of exchange rate fluctuation on the costs of imported materials and products. However, we are confident these matters are better understood than twelve months ago and indeed ‘priced in’ to our workload assuming a ‘soft’ Brexit in 2019.

“We are also watching closely the possible on-going consequences and implications for the construction industry in the wake of the Hackitt Review and following the demise of Carillion.”

Willmott Dixon wins sole role on £2.5bn UK framework

Willmott Dixon has been selected as the sole contractor for a new Major Projects Framework that is potentially worth £2.5 billion over the next four years.

The Procurement Hub programme covers all public-sector projects such as the construction of new and existing buildings as well as retrofit, refurbishment, repairs and maintenance.

The framework, which is open to every public body, provides public bodies with OJEU compliant access to Willmott Dixon’s construction expertise. The company’s partners, Robertson, will deliver Procurement Hub projects in Scotland, while Farrans will be responsible for schemes in Northern Ireland. Fortem will deliver repairs work through another Procurement Hub framework, Built Environment.

Procurement Hub, a division of Places for People Group, is a leader in driving innovation and change; and specialising in the procurement of frameworks and dynamic purchasing systems that deliver best value and efficiencies to their customers.

Group chief executive, Rick Willmott, said: “We have a relationship with Places for People stretching back over a decade and teaming up with its Procurement Hub gives us another important channel alongside our existing frameworks to deliver high-quality construction projects for our public sector customers.

“Procurement Hub’s Major Projects framework is another important way for public bodies to acquire a capital project. Single source frameworks provide particular benefits in that they give customers a streamlined, consistent procurement process to gain access to experienced contractors already vetted for quality, durability and competitiveness.

“With our excellent geographic coverage in England and Wales alongside the support of delivery partners Farrans and Robertson, we look forward to engaging with existing and new public sector customers through Procurement Hub.”

Wilmott Dixon poised to win £8.9m Dundee community facility tender

Work on a new £13.2 million community facility in Dundee could start as soon as next month if councillors approve an £8.9m tender.

Wilmott Dixon’s bid to build a new multi-use community centre with two games halls, fitness suite, library and community multi-purpose rooms and areas, complete with cafe, is being recommended for approval.

Designed over two storeys, the building in Menzieshill will have a total floor area of around 3100m².

Lynne Short, convener of Dundee City Council’s city development committee, said: “Many of the positive things I have done in my life can be traced back to spending countless happy hours at Menzieshill Community Centre when I was wee.

“Facilities like this don’t just benefit our children for the few hours a day or week that they are there, but for years into the future when the friendships they make, the life lessons they learn and the physical activities they enjoy help to create happy, healthy adults.”

According to a report to be considered by Dundee City Council’s city development committee on Monday, the total projected cost of the new Menzieshill Community Project will be £13.2m when fees, land purchase, furniture, landscaping and other elements are taken into account.

In this contract Willmott Dixon’s sub-contractors’ Robertson Construction and all its sub-contractors will pay the Scottish Living Wage as a minimum to all employees actively employed on the site.

The new community facility is expected to take around a year to build.

£3.2m innovation campus in North Ayrshire completes

Annickbank Innovation Campus

Robertson Group has completed work on a major innovation campus in Ayrshire which aims to support businesses across the region.

The second phase of Annickbank Innovation Campus in Irvine was delivered as part of a £3.2 million project for North Ayrshire Council, with two Robertson businesses integral to its success.

Robertson Central West served as the main contractor, building two multi-storey office blocks on schedule. Robertson Civil Engineering delivered the foundations, slabs and supporting infrastructure to the site, having already worked extensively in the wider i3 Enterprise Area.

The project was procured through Scape Group’s National Major Works framework, now superseded by the Major Works Scotland part of the (Scape) National Construction framework, and delivered by Robertson in partnership with Willmott Dixon.

Ed Parry, managing director, Robertson Central West, said: “We have worked closely with our colleagues in Robertson Civil Engineering on this project, with that joined-up approach crucial to ensuring the work was completed on schedule and to the highest quality.

“The pavilions we have built are truly best in class and they are flexible enough to serve the needs of future tenants regardless of sector. North Ayrshire Council is determined to attract even more businesses to the area and the quality of this campus gives them the ability to do just that.”

In the first phase at Annickbank Innovation Campus, two units were built and completed in June 2014. Both units were then sold to major businesses who continue to operate from them.

Irvine’s Enterprise Area, i3, offers major benefits for relocating businesses and has led to the creation of modern commercial property throughout the region.

Councillor Alex Gallagher, cabinet member for economy, North Ayrshire Council, said: “We are ambitious in our plans to make North Ayrshire and i3 a key Life Science business destination.

“i3 is the largest Life Sciences Enterprise Area in Scotland and is the perfect base for new and growing companies from a variety of sectors, with the land and infrastructure to facilitate and support long-term growth. We are excited and confident that we will secure new tenants for these fantastic facilities and look forward to further development of this strategically important site.”

Victoria Brambini, managing director of Scape Procure, said: “It is fantastic to see Robertson complete Annickbank Innovation Campus, providing much needed modern commercial property space for innovative and growing businesses in the local area.

“Our frameworks foster a collaborative approach between contractors which delivers cost efficient high quality projects, whilst also creating social value, for example through training opportunities for local people and support for businesses and SMEs across the region.”

Dundee set to approve £15.5m Waterfront office development

Site 6 of the Dundee Waterfront shown as work began on the V&A to the left

Site 6 of the Dundee Waterfront shown as work began on the V&A to the left

Work to create a £15.5 million office block in the heart of Dundee’s Waterfront is set to begin next month with the approval of a tender submitted by Robertson Construction.

Councillors are being asked to approve the appointment of the contractor to build on land at Site 6, adjacent to the new V&A Museum.

The five-floor development will include Grade A office space, ground floor commercial units, a service yard and dedicated parking.

Due to be completed in February 2019, the building forms part of broader development on the site which received planning consent in the summer.

A report being considered by the city development committee next week seeks approval to accept the tender submitted by Robertson Construction on behalf of Wilmott Dixon.

Funding for the project is available as part of the Scottish Government’s Growth Accelerator Fund and prudential borrowing from income received from leasing the commercial units within the building.

Lynne Short, convener of the city development committee, said: “This is another important milestone in the transformation of our central Waterfront.

“There can be few locations matching it anywhere in Scotland, just yards from the new V&A and the River Tay. It’s also right next door to our new railway station.

“Creating top-class office space like this bolsters the ongoing efforts of the council and its partners to attract blue chip employers to the city.”

Dundee Central Waterfront Site Proposal

The building forms part of a broader mixed-use development on the site

The report, by executive director of city development Mike Galloway, notes that there will also be a community benefits programme including guarantees to employ local labour, apprenticeships and local contract spend.

It also confirms that all employees working for main contractor Robertson Construction and all sub-contractors on the site will be paid the Living Wage, currently £8.75 and due to go up every November.

Councillor Short added: “This development and others in the Central Waterfront will not only act as a magnet for future employers, but also create opportunities for workers in the construction sector.

“It’s another strong signal that Dundee is a city open for business.”

Meanwhile, a ten-year vision to build on the success of Dundee construction and infrastructure projects will also be considered by councillors next week.

The Capital Investment Strategy links together a number of developments that will assist in policy areas like work & enterprise, children & families, healthcare & wellbeing and community safety and justice.

Future planning for the school estate, green spaces, housing investment, smart cities digital and stronger communities are among the areas under focus.

The council runs a five-year capital plan, with the current version sitting at investment levels of nearly £350m. While including these details, the Capital Investment Strategy illustrates the council’s longer-term thinking for programmes.

The document also details a number of projects which are earmarked to take place under the Tay Cities Deal including a Comics Centre, the redevelopment of Dundee Contemporary Arts, an aviation skills partnership and the decommissioning opportunities being explored by the Dundeecom partnership.

Council leader John Alexander said: “This strategy is a clear outline of the ambition we have for Dundee and illustrates how hard we are working to realise it.

“We are maintaining the regeneration of the city and ensuring that all of our pupils are learning in quality surroundings.

“There are a number of aspirations through the Tay Cities deal that the wider partnership of the area want to realise because they are hugely exciting and will help to accelerate the momentum that has been built up.

“We are also thinking innovatively about strengthening the city’s infrastructure for years to come, and this will include the delivery of Wi-Fi and 5G readiness in the Central Waterfront with the Scottish Futures Trust.

“We are absolutely determined to build a fairer and smarter city for the future and take on the challenges that exist for the benefit of our people.”

The council’s policy and resources committee meets on Monday December 11.

Industry leaders unite to tackle modern slavery in UK construction sector

construction site stockTo mark Anti-Slavery Day in the UK today, the Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB) and Stronger Together will be joined be industry leaders in spearheading a pioneering collaborative initiative to tackle modern slavery in the construction sector.

Recent figures released by the International Labour Organisation (ILO), estimate there are 40 million people trapped in modern slavery around the world. Prime Minister Theresa May described it as “the greatest human rights issue in the world today”.

Saint-Gobain, Westfield and Willmott Dixon will help shape the initiative that provides construction companies, their clients and sub-contractors with the sector specific guidance they need to address modern slavery and comply with the UK Modern Slavery Act requirements. The construction initiative follows the successful model of Stronger Together’s consumer goods programme, launched in October 2013, which is sponsored by the nine major UK supermarkets.

The programme combines interactive training workshops and practical resources which offer detailed yet pragmatic advice. Included in the resources is an in-depth good practice toolkit and ‘Concrete’ a powerful short film, based on a true story, which highlights the risks of modern slavery within the UK construction industry.  Workshops can be booked and resources freely downloaded at www.stronger2gether.org/construction.

Jantine Werdmüller von Elgg, global programme lead at Stronger Together, said: “We welcome the leadership of the project sponsors including Saint-Gobain, Westfield and Willmott Dixon to take this key step on the journey to reduce modern slavery in the construction sector. Fundamental to our approach is collaboration and we encourage every business within the industry to join the programme and take advantage of the free resources, training workshops and the opportunity to discuss the challenges and best practice involved in addressing this issue in a safe space.”

Chris Blythe OBE, chief executive of CIOB, said: “No project is too big or too small to be at the risk of modern slavery and labour exploitation. The commitment shown by these companies demonstrates an enlightened approach and makes good business sense. The industry improves the quality of life for those who use our structures but the process of construction must also protect the wellbeing of those who make it happen, wherever they are in the supply chain and whatever their background. We should not accept anything less and we must work together to achieve it.”

Keith Whitmore, head of design and construction at Westfield UK & Europe, said: “Westfield is very proud to be involved in this important industry initiative. Westfield has created close to 100,000 construction jobs through its UK retail developments, and will create thousands more through its future development pipeline. We are committed to help ensure we eradicate modern slavery in the industry and in the UK through educational initiatives.”

Rick Willmott, chief executive at Willmott Dixon, added: “Sustainability is at the heart of our business and that includes showing leadership in sustainable procurement. We take our responsibility for tackling modern slavery very seriously and that includes taking a collaborative approach with our industry peers. We are therefore delighted to be a project sponsor of this joint CIOB and Stronger Together initiative in the construction sector.”

Willmott Dixon on track to halve carbon emissions by 2020

Rick Willmott

Rick Willmott

Willmott Dixon has called on the construction sector to secure the future of generations to come by taking more action now to reduce carbon emissions as the company’s latest sustainability report details a 13% reduction in emissions over the last 12 months.

New performance figures for carbon, waste and broader sustainability revealed a 13% reduction in carbon emissions relative to turnover compared with 2015, and a 40% reduction compared with the company’s baseline year of 2010.

Group chief executive, Rick Willmott, explained why the company is making carbon emissions reduction a priority: “Climate change will have a profound impact on the way of life for future generations, with implications for health, food production and access to resources if we don’t curb now the effect of excessive carbon emissions into our atmosphere and the consequence that has for global warming. Any company committed to leaving a lasting legacy in the built environment must view carbon management as a key focus area.”

Willmott Dixon has focused heavily on tackling emissions in which the company has direct control, such as purchasing electricity from renewable sources and finding ways to reduce emissions from transport and the construction activities. The company is also addressing emissions generated by the supply chain that they have influence over (so-called Scope 3 emissions).

Willmott Dixon ensures its carbon performance is verified externally by Bureau Veritas. The company has also just been recertified to the Carbon Trust Standard (achieving the highest score in the sector), and remains a pioneer of the Carbon Trust’s Supply Chain Standard – the world’s first accreditation for companies managing emissions in their supply chain.

Since 2012, Willmott Dixon has calculated its unavoidable emissions and offset them by purchasing credits in projects which are reducing carbon emissions by an equivalent amount. This means the company is certified as carbon neutral.

Rick added: “With around half of the UK’s carbon emissions coming from the construction and operation of buildings, we must strive to find less carbon-intensive ways to operate as an industry. And this includes getting better at building energy efficient buildings, which will stand up to the more extreme temperatures we can expect in the coming decades.”

Willmott Dixon to consolidate construction and housing teams as profits double

Rick Willmott

Rick Willmott

Willmott Dixon has revealed plans to merge its housing delivery and construction teams as the firm reported a solid trading performance.

In 2016 the contractor saw its turnover dip nearly 1% to £1.22 billion (2015: £1.33bn) but profits before tax & amortisation rise 97% to reach £31.1m (2015: £15.8m).

The company also published highlights so far in 2017, with a secured forward order book at £1bn and 90% of budgeted work secured.

During the year Willmott Dixon launched Fortem (housing repairs and maintenance) and Be Living (housing development) as new brands and de-merged.

In a further reorganisation it has now decided to integrate its residential contracting operations within the general construction operation under chief operating officer John Waterman.

Willmott Dixon group chief executive, Rick Willmott, said: “This year will see concentration on our core contracting activity, making sure that we continue to shape Willmott Dixon to stay close to our customers, both private and public, and by serving their evolving needs.

“This particularly relates to our residential construction proposition, where the nature of projects is changing, with private housing developers, local authorities and housing associations creating ever more high density, mixed-tenure and mixed-use developments.

These opportunities are often ‘bundled’ as a series of projects that allow customers to work in partnership with companies like us to accelerate delivery.”

But the company has stated they are on the lookout for new opportunities, with Rick Willmott adding: “To ensure we are best positioned to deal with this strong and vibrant market opportunity, we need to change the way we operate by integrating our residential expertise and capability into our national Construction business from July.

“This will see our residential projects and teams progressively migrate to their local Construction office to better enable us to provide a seamless service with scope to expand across the whole country.

“This also fits neatly with our portfolio of national and local frameworks, including Scape where we are a partner on the new National Construction Framework with the potential for work volumes of £2.25b over the next four years, and the Southern Construction Framework, where we have the accolade of being its Contractor of the Year.

“Having consistency of operational structure, leadership and direction will absolutely reinforce our ability to deliver best in class performance for all our customers.”

Willmott Dixon and Robertson set for £17m Dundee schools complex

North East Campus DundeeWillmott Dixon Construction Limited has submitted a tender worth over £17 million for a new primary school and nursery campus in Dundee.

The new North East Campus, which has been designed by Holmes Miller Architects, will house two schools and a nursery and replace St Luke’s & St Matthew’s, St Vincent’s and Longhaugh primary and nursery schools.

Set to be located on land to the north of Lothian Crescent in Whitfield, the development was given planning approval by the local authority last month.

Now a tender for the works, which will cost £17.2m including allowances, has been submitted by Willmott Dixon Construction Limited with the work to be carried out by Robertson Construction.

Will Dawson, convener of Dundee City Council’s city development committee, said: “It’s great to see this tender being brought forward and with it a new school campus coming a step closer.

“Work is already completed and well underway on similar projects in other parts of Dundee so it is good to see progress being made in the north east of the city.”

The new schools are designed over three storeys for a maximum combined roll of 868 pupils and a 95 full time equivalent (FTE) three to five year olds at the nursery. A separate nursery area for up to 30 FTE. two year olds is also included in the project.

Vehicles will get access to the main school from Lothian Crescent where there will also be a pupil drop-off and service yard car park. There will be an additional pupil drop-off facility on Longhaugh Road.

The city development committee meets to discuss the tender on March 27.

Construction work on the school is expected to begin before summer.

Robertson celebrates opening of £8.8m North Uist school

Sgoil Uibhist a Tuath exteriorAn opening ceremony has been held for a new £8.8 million school built in North Uist by infrastructure group Robertson.

Sgoil Uibhist a’ Tuath is the seventh new school to open in the Western Isles in the last six years.

Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, the local authority, invested £6.6m into the school with additional funding of £2.2m coming from the Scottish Government.

Construction was led by main contractors Robertson on behalf of Willmott Dixon and was completed on time and within budget.

The work was procured through Scape Group’s National Major Works framework.

Reid Gilmour, operations manager at Robertson Central, said: “It has been a pleasure working in partnership with Comhairle Nan Eilean Siar to deliver this new school through Scape Group’s National Major Works framework.

“It has been a logistically challenging but incredibly rewarding project that has been achieved with the help of the local community. Project Manager Finlay MacInnes and I have enjoyed our time here and I would like to thank everyone for their support.”

Sgoil Uibhist a Tuath interiorComhairle convener, Cllr Norman A MacDonald, said: “I am delighted that we have officially marked the opening of the new school. Staff and children are already benefitting from this excellent education facility which provides childcare, early years and primary education to the North Uist community in partnership with Saoghal Beag Nursery.

“There have been several improvements to our schools in the Western Isles over the last few years, and here today we see the opening of the seventh new school in the past six years. Our new schools will usher in a new era of educational opportunity and community facilities, in buildings that are the equal of any in Scotland.”

Mark Robinson, Scape Group’s chief executive, said: “At Scape Group we are very excited to be helping to deliver a fantastic new school to Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, in a move which will provide an excellent future for the island’s young people, as well as help to evolve the education system in the Western Isles.

“Working collaboratively through our National Major Works framework, Robertson and Comhairle nan Eilean Siar have proved that investment in high quality school buildings is not reserved for big cities, and that it is possible to deliver great design in every community, including the Western Isles.”

The school is also providing a resource for community activities.