CRIT­I­CAL MASS

With off-site con­struc­tion re­main­ing Laing O’Rourke’s pre­ferred build­ing method, dis­pute res­o­lu­tion and project bond­ing re­quire­ments are im­por­tant con­sid­er­a­tions for the com­pany’s fu­ture growth, as Mid­dle East man­ag­ing di­rec­tor Mark An­drews ex­plains

Construction Week - - MARK ANDREWS - WORDS BY JACK BALL | PHO­TOG­RA­PHY BY RA­JESH RAGHAV

UK-head­quar­tered con­trac­tor, Laing O’Rourke, is pur­su­ing growth in the Mid­dle East against a back­drop of squeezed bud­gets and a drive by de­vel­op­ers to­wards the bot­tom-line price.

“We are very se­lec­tive as to which jobs we will work on and who we will work with,” Mark An­drews, man­ag­ing di­rec­tor of Laing O’Rourke Mid­dle East, tells Con­struc­tion Week. “It is about try­ing to achieve crit­i­cal mass, where we can hope­fully turn a profit rather than look­ing at growth for growth’s sake.

“I think un­doubt­edly for some con­trac­tors [in the last cou­ple of years] it was all about growth, par­tic­u­larly those that were look­ing at ini­tial pub­lic of­fer­ings or were list­ing, be­cause there was this sense that the share price was driven by the back­log. Those of us that have been in con­struc­tion for a long time know that if you take on bad jobs, it does not mat­ter how many you have got – you are not go­ing to make any money. In­stead, you are go­ing to ‘lose your shirt’.”

With this in mind, se­lec­tiv­ity is key for An­drews, who wants to find clients that “look at the broader value propo­si­tion beyond just price”.

“The mar­ket is still very much price- driven and that does chal­lenge con­trac­tors that are try­ing to of­fer a high-end prospect,” he ex­plains, adding that some de­vel­op­ers in the re­gion “just look for the bot­tom-line price”.

In­stead, Laing O’Rourke adopts a de­sign-and-build ap­proach when­ever pos­si­ble. An­drews says there are sev­eral rea­sons that this model is pre­ferred, the most fun­da­men­tal of which is that it “tends to re­sult in shorter bid lists”. An­drews adds: “The other rea­son is that it of­fers the op­por­tu­nity to de­sign-in a more con­struc­tive so­lu­tion, so that work that can be done safely, sus­tain­ably, and with a greater scope for off­site con­struc­tion. We fun­da­men­tally be­lieve that any­thing that can be built in a fac­tory should be built in a fac­tory. In many parts of the de­vel­oped world, there is now a gen­eral move for the in­dus­try to go down that route.”

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