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Sat 22 May 2004 04:00 AM

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Adding value to the region’s projects with safety in mind

Bovis lend lease enters the UAE’s construction market and offers a wealth of experience from past projects

About Bovis Lend Lease|~|bovbod.jpg|~|New Quay, Melbourne, Australia: Bovis Lend Lease has been appointed design and construction manager for the first stages of this US $82.8 million waterside residential development.|~|In global terms, Bovis Lend Lease (BLL) is one of the largest construction and project management companies there is. With prestigious internationa developments spanning sectors as varied as aviation and leisure already under its belt, BLL is ready to offer its numerous skills to the booming UAE construction market.

Having already worked in the region and with ongoing work in Kuwait, BLL has recently set up a Dubai office and is carefully assessing project opportunities region-wide. With a welath of experience and a mightily impressive portfolio, BLL will surely add value to any project it is a part of.

John Spanswick, chairman & chief executive, Europe, Middle East & Africa, BLL told Construction Week about the past, present and the future aims of BLL in the Middle East and discusseed the company’s radical new approach to on-site safety.

How did Bovis become the organisation it is today?

The Bovis company has existed in the UK since the 1880s and became a listed company during the 60s and 70s and was then bought by the shipping company, P&O. We currently employ about 3000 people in EMEA and roughly 2000 in the UK. Our business offering is primarily linked to project management (PM) and construction management (CM) and we are one of the top three Private Finance Initiative (PFI) providers to the NHS.

How heavily involved is Bovis in PFI projects?

The UK government have embarked on what is probably the biggest spending programme that has ever been seen in the world in terms of hospitals. It [UK government] has a new programme for hospitals worth US $3.5 billion a year as well as a value programme on schools and we have been involved in those programmes for a while now.

We are now certainly one of their top three providers of hospitals and we are currently involved in around nine hospitals. Interestingly, we are also doing the first PFI hospital outside of the UK in Brescia, Italy. Furthermore, we are in discussions with PFI type customers in Madrid at the moment.||**||Bovis: Past, present and future|~|Franbod.jpg|~|BLL’s twelfth project for Millenium Partners was the 100 000 m2 Four Seasons Hotel in San Francisco.|~|What do you think about the current global shortage of raw-materials?

There’s a real resource issue at the moment. Not just in Dubai and Abu Dhabi but worldwide and if you look at the demand in China you realise that this is just the start. It’s reported that the demand in the Chinese market has caused a shortage of re-bar and other raw materials so with the demand around the world and because we are a worldwide business we are able to help clients with how sourcing is going to impact on their delivery and price.

Dubai never ceases to amaze me every time I come here because the amount of work going on here is almost like Boston in the 1930s. With that in mind I think that resource planning is a real issue and it’s not just in Dubai but it’s a factor all around the world.

It’s going to be a big issue and I think we can help because we’re used to sourcing around the world and so we have to look at how we can do that. We’ve recently bee appointed as construction managers in the UK on Battersea Power Station, which is worth $1.4 billion and some of the packages there cannot possibly be sourced out of the UK and we’re looking all over the world to help with that.

What are the signature buildings and projects that BLL have been involved in?

On a worldwide basis we probably build more commercial office space than anyone else. We did the Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur, the Time Warner building in New York and we have been project managers on a project to build the tallest commercial building in Moscow and we do have a vast amount of experience on big commercial office sector projects.

Retail is another strong sector for us and our parent company Lend Lease actually owns shopping centres and we do a lot of retail work all over the world and the Bluewater complex in the UK is just one of those.

The pharmaceutical sector is another key area for us and we have around 800 people around the world, including people form construction through to very technical validation people working for us in that area.

Aviation is also a strong sector for BLL and we are currently project managers on Barcelona’s airport’s huge expansion project, which is worth around $1 billion as well as the huge expansion of a terminal at Prague airport.

We’ve worked around the world in industrial construction and I suppose one of our biggest clients across the world is BP and we have an alliance set up with BP to build and maintain all their service stations in the UK and North America. We’re also heavily involved in leisure and hospitality and if you talk about our track record its impressive. We were project managers on Euro Disney, we built the Terra Mitica them park in Spain and Lego Land in the UK.

What are you hoping to achieve in Dubai and the Middle East?

We have worked in the region before but it became clear to us that we could use our international experience to add value locally. We believe that we are both global and local and you can’t be global without being local.

We took the decision to move Mark Fletcher (regional director, Middle East & Africa) out to Dubai because it’s a big market and we work around the world where we think we can add value to local resource and local clients and there are some fantastic opportunities out here.

There seems to be enough work for everybody and I think Dubai and Abu Dhabi and other places in the Gulf need the sort of skills we can offer. With the sizes of some of the projects in Dubai I can see the boom lasting for at least another five years.

One of the attractive thing about the construction industry in Dubai is that the decision making process is very quick. Once the government decides it wants to do something, it does get done quickly but in Europe it takes much longer because the decision making process is more complicated. That has really impressed me.||**||Middle East projects and safety|~|bluebod.jpg|~|Bluewater, Europe’s largest retail and leisure development rivals many Middle East malls for sheer size.|~|Are you keen to try and get involved with projects such as The Palm and developments in other GCC countries?

Those [Nakheel projects] are obviously things we are looking at and our concentration is to look at projects where we genuinely feel we can add value. We have different types of capability but there is also some very good local capability out there that can deal with certain projects. We’ll be looking to get into commercial projects because of our experience around the world and we also have a lot of experience on leisure related developments.

We are looking at other Gulf countries too but for the moment our concentration is clearly on the markets of Dubai and Kuwait because we’re already there but there are some interesting projects that we know about around the region.

That’s why I think there is a very sustainable market for out services. I would say that Dubai is the strongest emerging market in the world at the moment and it’s very similar to what happened with the construction industry in Hong Kong a few years ago.

What about the global sporting projects BLL has been involved in?

It’s interesting because we’re supporting the UK and Spain in their bids for the 2012 Olympics! We did the Formula 1 circuit in Melbourne, stadiums for the World Cup in Japan, an Indy 500 track in America and we’re project managers on four stadiums for the upcoming World Cup in Germany so we’ve done a lot of sporting arenas. We realise we can’t do everything everywhere but if we’re absolutely positive we can add some real value to a project we will take it on.

What is Bovis Lend Lease’s standpoint on safety?

Our safety record across the world is better than average but two or three years ago we took a long hard look at our safety polices and decided to make some changes.

Incidents across the world have come down but we have now got to a point we incidents are stuck at a certain level and we’ve taken a serious look at that as well as being given help by a company called JMJ on what we call our Incident and Injury Free programme.

Our theory is that it is just not acceptable to start off by saying we accept there will be an incident. We don’t mean zero incidents but that we will strive for that and we want individuals within our company to also accept that.

We introduced a cultural programme two years ago and it is a very significant investment of time and money and we decided to make it a top-down driven process. This means that the first people who were engaged in this process were people like me and other senior executives.

We said that unless the senior executives and management in our organisation started to behave differently then none of the other staff would change.

In Europe every single one of our 3000 employees has been through some sort of cultural and safety based training workshop and me and my senior people are now behaving differently because of what we have learned. We aim to make safety a value and not just a priority because priorities change but values don’t. ||**||

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