• Case study: Volker Wessels 
    Case study
    : Volker Wessels

     

    By "luck and judgment", the Dutch owned infrastructure contractor VolkerWessels UK is doing better than many in the construction industry, says Alan Robertson, its chief executive. The luck is that its business is focused mainly on areas where there is still work, notably rail, ports and airports. The judgment is that is concentrating on areas where it sees a commitment to investment.

     

    VolkerWessels UK saw its turnover grow by 20 per cent last year to £666m and it made a £12.2m pre-tax profit, after a £1.5m loss the previous year. That is still below the £17.5m it made in 2008. "It's not where we want it to be and we have various plans to grow the profit margin," Mr Robertson says.

     

    The company has just finished a £32m contract to resurface the runway at Gatwick airport and it is starting a £35m scheme to build a new quay at Southampton docks for ABP. It is also in the middle of a £334m project to extend Manchester's Metrolink tramway, jointly with Laing O'Rourke.

     

    Mr Robertson says there are pockets of privately funded investment, but the market needs "government commitment and certainty" if infrastructure is to be developed. "Periodically we see government take steps forward and sometimes things go backwards."

     

    As an example of the latter, he cites the slashing of subsidies for solar projects last year. He also says deferring a decision on south-east airport expansion until after the next election means "we are going to suffer a three or four year delay in terms of whether Heathrow gets expanded, or Stansted or Luton or Boris island".

     

    But he praises the government for accelerating the release of 4G radio spectrum, which will lead to high-speed mobile services becoming widespread, and for supporting the HS2 high-speed rail link between London, Birmingham and northern England.

     

9/17/2019 3:45:23 PM