Building for the future

According to the Office for National Statistics, the value of new construction work experienced a fall of 16.3 per cent in 2020 after a record high in 2019, as the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic took hold.

The sector has also had to battle with changes in legislation such as IR35, VAT domestic reverse charge, the Construction Industry Scheme (CIS) and of course Brexit - each making a significant impact.

One construction business that Brown & Co has helped navigate through these challenges is Archbell Greenwood, a steel erection company based in Fleetwood.

The company boasts an impressive portfolio of work, mainly in and around London, including the Walkie Talkie building, V&A Museum and, more recently, Battersea Power Station.

David Norman, managing director of Archbell Greenwood, shared his insights into the challenges and outlook of the industry.

What recent changes have you seen in your sector?

Since our company was formed over 25 years ago, we have invested heavily in training with both apprentices and enhancing the skills of our workforce.

It has always been the case that a proportion of those trained and the apprentices leave for various reasons, but in construction the need to work away from home is something that is a lot more difficult to cope with for the younger generation than was previously the case.

In other sectors this loss of labour has been mitigated by robotics and machinery, but in the case of steel erecting these options are very limited and make it all the harder to fill the void.

What opportunities and challenges lay ahead?

The good news is that investor confidence and government-funded projects are helping to ensure the availability of a healthy forward workload throughout the New Year and beyond.

Securing a share of this work demands that we respond to, meet and anticipate our clients’ expectations particularly when constructing, as we do, for international organisations who require compliance, and more on matters such as recycling, sustainability, and employee welfare - all of which is a laudable goal which we share with them, but being able to secure the additional cost burden in our tender prices and subsequent orders is most certainly difficult.

What will be the key to future success?

As a result of our commitment to apprentice training, a substantial portion of our senior management started with us as apprentices.

With a view to securing our long-term future we have taken advantage of the Enterprise Management Incentive scheme, designed to motivate and encourage our team in the years ahead.

Brown & Co

Brown & Co is a fast-growing and dynamic firm of chartered accountants. We support and provide growth strategies to many large clients in the construction sector.

Talk to us for no-nonsense, straight-talking advice about taking your organisation to the next level.

  • To read this feature in full and access further Lancashire business news, advice and analysis subscribe to Lancashire Business View magazine or join the LBV Hub from just £2.50 per month. Click here to subscribe now.