Known formerly as Cyril Sweett, the newly-rebranded Sweett Group is set to consolidate its presence in the Middle East. International MD Eamonn Kerr says the name "has maintained the theme of Sweett; it coincides with the original name, so that clients get used to the idea. I think it is also more contemporary; it looks and feels different as a single word."
Kerr explains the reasoning behind the rebranding: "As we have expanded our business across the globe, part of that expansion has involved mergers and acquisitions. I think there has been a point where we had three or four different brands sitting within the group because of mergers and acquisitions.
However, now that we have reached a critical mass as a global business, we want to see the Sweett Group start to be the prime focus. Internationally that name has now gained some traction. This pulls all of them together into one vision and one set of values, and I think that is a much more comfortable place for everybody."
Kerr says the rebranding process commenced in Australia and India, followed by the Middle East. "We will follow with Europe and North and South Asia." Given the current state of flux in the region and the world, it seems an opportune time for the Sweett Group to reassert its identity.
"I think so. I think it is a point in time where the region is maybe just rethinking about where it is going, how it is getting there over the long term and what it is going to do. I think we are at the beginning of that road with our company in terms of being able to launch a common brand across the GCC," says Kerr.
"Also, you inevitably gain relationships, and that is always how business is best done, through relationship management. People like a clear and simple understanding, and when they see or hear different names, it slightly clouds the picture for them, so I think the single brand with a single set of values and a single strategic approach is very comfortable."
The fact that the Sweett Group has deliberately maintained a low profile could lead to the mistaken assumption that it is new to the region. "We have a registered business in Libya, although we are not entirely sure about the current status of that particular country; we have projects in Syria that are on hold that are about to commence; we have a registered business in Iraq.
We registered our business in Iraq on the basis that we would be there when the market became secure both commercially and physically for us to operate in. We have some very talented Iraqi members of staff who work for us here.
"As far as Libya is concerned, we see it certainly as an emerging market - and probably even more of an emerging market now. It is a Mediterranean country; it is relatively close to the UK in terms of being able to service it from there and here. Of course, we are in Egypt and Morocco, where we are already undertaking quite significant projects there.
However, I see those locations as opportunistic rather than strategic. Our strategy will remain focused on the UAE and Saudi Arabia, and probably Qatar and Kuwait, as our strategic delivery points," says Kerr.
Kerr says the Sweett Group has been looking at Kuwait "for probably the last two years, but it has always actually been very difficult to drive projects over the line." He adds that Kuwait is a market to watch in the future as it has a lot of infrastructure development on the cards, which is a perfect fit for the Sweett Group's "particular strengths in things like health and PPP."
As for Qatar and the potential impact of the 2022 FIFA Football World Cup, Kerr says: "I think the competition in Qatar is huge, and that has driven down some of the actual commercial attractiveness of it. That said, I still think there is always a market for good-quality services and people. We already have invitations to go and help and support projects. Again, there is a danger in any business; as I always say, you do not want to be in a position where you have got 100% of your work 80% done.
"That is something people have done in this region. It is about making sure your quality of service and delivery capability is of the international standard for which you have been appointed in the places that you are present, and that you get repeat business on the back of that, which is of course the best business of all.
Certainly by 2020 we will be in Qatar doing things, and frankly I imagine that by the end of 2012 we will be in Qatar, as we will be in Kuwait. But I foresee our primary focus remaining in the UAE and Saudi Arabia in the short and medium term," says Kerr.
"Our focus really in the Middle East has been to have a commercial management hub out of the UAE. We find Dubai to be very good in terms of communications; it has a good airline; it is a good geographic location; you plug your computer in the wall and it works. Abu Dhabi has always been a strong market for us, and continues to be so. But we will continue to push hard and diversify in Saudi Arabia. We have two to three other interesting projects in Riyadh and in Jeddah that we are working on. Then we will look to probably also move into other areas of the Gulf which we see as stable and sustainable in the long term sustainable, such as Qatar and Kuwait."
The Sweett Group has an office in Riyadh servicing the CMA Tower, a high-rise project just under 400m that is one of the tallest buildings under construction in the world at present.