Aiming high

  • Four multi-million-pound retail projects in the pipeline
  • Reputation for providing certainty is key to success
  • Innovation, flexibility and client liaison will win more contracts

Edinburgh St James
Edinburgh St James

Laing O'Rourke certainly has a lot of retail work in store for coming months.

The roll call of projects starts with the £250m Westgate Oxford redevelopment, completing this autumn, while a £75m refit of British Land’s Meadowhall shopping centre in Sheffield finishes in December.

The £130m contract for Intu Property in Watford should be delivered in 2019, plus there's the £450m joint-venture Edinburgh St James Quarter scheme, which is due to complete by 2020.

A great reputation

Laing O’Rourke operations leader Dan Doherty says this success is down to a strategy to “win some of the highest-profile retail and leisure projects, focusing on specific clients and building trusted relationships with them”. 

That strategy was underpinned by earlier retail projects such as Trinity Leeds and Nottingham’s Victoria Centre, which established key client relationships and a reputation for delivering on time and on budget.

“Keeping to the programme and offering flexible responses to clients’ needs gives them certainty – something highly prized in this sector," says Dan. "We achieve certainty through the large scale of our operation; by deploying high-calibre teams with a proven track record in retail and the ability to respond flexibly; and through our integrated business model.” 

Another advantage, says Dan, is Laing O'Rourke's Design for Manufacture and Assembly (DfMA) approach of using prefabricated components, supported by digital engineering techniques, which give us "greater control of our supply chain, logistics, quality and safety”.

Feedback and rapport

Strong rapport and regular communication with clients underpins every project. Sharing feedback about performance, Dan says, provides "an all-round vision of how the project is going and opportunities to learn lessons".

Existing and prospective clients recently toured Westgate Oxford and learned how the John Lewis store there was changed from an in-situ concrete frame structure to a DfMA structure – an example of how we can save clients money and time. "It’s these sorts of innovations and value engineering solutions that clients look to us for,” says Project leader Chris Rafferty.

Flexibility is fundamental 

At Meadowhall, flexibility is another key to success. Project leader Mark Lazenby explains: “If a tenant needs to vary the specifications of a retail unit, or the client needs us to take on extra work, they know we’re flexible enough to meet it." Flexibility like carrying out 70% of work at night is partly why the client has extended our contract by £25m.

Dan concludes: “We’re pursuing a number of substantial retail opportunities and, thanks to our track record, I’m confident that will translate into great business opportunities for us."

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