JCW: Taking the floor

By Lancashire Business View

12 Dec 2018

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Visitors enjoying their retail therapy trip to the Trafford Centre or Liverpool One are unlikely to have heard of the JCW Group. But the business, set up 25 years ago in a Bolton lock-up, has played its part in the creation of shopping destinations like these, and many others across the UK.

The JCW Group of companies provides a range of specialist products and services to the building and construction sector.

The business has made a strong name for itself over the last 25 years for its expertise in floor screeding.

Screed is used in construction to level out a concrete sub base. It’s an important but little-known part of the construction process.

It provides a smooth and even finish that is required for laying flooring. It can be used to cover insulation or underfloor heating pipes, offering a thermally efficient solution.

John Wilkins set up the business a quarter of a century ago. Then its workforce consisted of him and a couple of colleagues.

Today, based in impressive headquarters at the Waters Meeting development in Bolton that it moved into a decade ago, the group employs 90 people and has a £12.5m turnover.

John is still at the helm as managing director, running the operation with fellow director John White and his management team.

The company has also expanded its areas of operation to include separate divisions specialising in acoustic flooring and acoustic specialist supplies.

However, it is fair to say that JCW is best known for its screeding operation. As well as The Trafford Centre and Liverpool One the business has worked on many more high-profile and hugely successful retail and leisure developments.

They include the Printworks and the Arndale centre in Manchester, the Ocean Terminal shopping centre in Leith where HMS Britannia is moored and the Bullring in Birmingham.

Other highlights include a £1.5m contract to work on the Westfield White City centre in West London and its input into the St Pancras station redevelopment in London. The JCW team is currently working on London Bridge train station.

Little wonder that founder and managing director John Wilkins has a sense of satisfaction when he looks back at the journey he and his company have travelled.

He made the decision to go it alone and set up his own business after spending seven years working for another company in the sector. Before that he was a quantity surveyor.

The 62-year-old says: “When I started it was just me and two or three guys that I knew. You want to achieve something and I’m pleased with what we have now.”

Over the 25 years John has seen the good and bad times in the construction industry, including the recession of a decade ago.

He says: “It’s a cyclical business with ups and down, you have to make money at the top of the curve. The secret to success is keeping the balance sheet strong.”

JCW’s clients include major developers, shop fitters and property developers.

John says: “We are a nationwide company with strong North West roots. We work all over Lancashire and all of our companies have built a strong brand name for themselves in the industry. That is something we have worked really hard at.”

A big part of that success comes from having “a loyal staff”. Many of the team at JCW have worked with John from the early days of the business’ development.

That is another source of satisfaction for him as he looks back. He says: “I do feel a sense of achievement in that.

“There are a lot of people who have worked here a long time. We look after our people and in return we get their loyalty. It is seen as a cliché but it is true; you are only as good as your staff.”

Looking towards the future, John says: “I’d like to see continued growth in all the companies in the group. We’re taking a steady approach. The business has a solid feel to it and that is important moving forward.”

It is seen as a cliché but it is true; you are only as good as your staff

Celebrating 25 years

1993: John C Wilkins Floor Screeding Contractors Limited is incorporated in November

1998: Installed the floor screed in Selfridges at the then under construction Trafford Centre. Also installed the screed in the remaining 80 per cent of the development

1999: Converted a former Welsh Methodist church in Bolton town centre into offices and moved into these premises from the business’ original base in Derbyshire Street, Bolton

2000: Worked on the Hard Rock Café in Manchester and restaurants at the then under construction Printworks. Worked on a large extension of the Overgate Shopping Centre in Dundee

2001: Carried out the floor screeding works on the Timber Wharf Development in central Manchester for Urban Splash Also worked on the new Ocean Terminal shopping Centre in Leith where HMS Britannia is moored

2002: Worked on the redevelopment of Piccadilly station in Manchester

2003: Installed the screed for the new Harvey Nichols store in Manchester. Worked on Jubilee Place Shopping Centre at Canary Wharf and the redevelopment of the Bullring Shopping Centre in Birmingham

2004: John C Wilkins Acoustic Supplies Limited is incorporated. Worked on Chapel Fields shopping Centre in Norwich and The Met Quarter centre in Liverpool

2006: Worked on the redevelopment of Manchester Arndale

2008: Moved both companies to the present location at Waters Meeting Development in Bolton. Carried out all the screeding works at the Liverpool One development and a £1.5m contract on the new Westfield White City centre in West London

2009: Worked on Union Square Shopping Centre, Aberdeen

2010: Worked on the redevelopment of The Rock Shopping Centre in Bury

2011: Worked on the new Media City development at Salford Quays

2012: Screed and supplies businesses were re-branded to JCW. A third company, JCW Acoustic Flooring, was incorporated. Worked on a retail development at St Pancras in London. Carried out works on extension of Manchester United training facility in Carrington

2013: Installed the screed for the retail development which forms part of the new Wembley station

2015: Worked on the new Surf Snowdonia attraction in Snowdonia National Park. Installed screed in Birmingham New Street station

2017: Carried out screeding works on Phase 2 of Westfield White City Shopping Centre in West London

2018: Currently working on London Bridge train station

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