“It is above all our experience in the construction and property market in combination with an inside know-how in cost control that have gained us the confidence of our customers. It is essential for them to realise a construction project without any interruptions or surprises, and they also want to keep a firm grip on the costs. It is not the first time that project costs are suddenly exploding,” points out Nick Ord, General Director of Gleeds France who has been working for the French subsidiary of the London-based Gleeds Group since 2006.
Gleeds can look back on a long history in project and cost management. The management and construction consultancy was founded in 1885 and is now active around the globe, employing a workforce of 1,600 people at its 65 offices in 21 countries.
The French subsidiary started to operate in 1980 and has been able to realise numerous high-profile projects in the hotel, education, retail and office sectors.
“In our first French years, we were particularly strong in hotel renovation and construction projects, but this strong position in the market could only be achieved when we moved out of the 19th arrondissement,” points out Mr. Ord. “In 2005, a new management team took over, and in only three years’ time we were able to operate in the black again. It was in those years that we were active in the hotel sector. While we started with only six employees, we can now rely on a workforce of 34 people.”
Mr. Ord has been working for Gleeds since 2006, and in 2014 he took over the company’s management. “It is my job to diversify our portfolio and our customer base. When I started working for Gleeds, about 80% of the consultancy was related to hotel construction and renovation projects. Now, we are active in various sectors,” says Mr. Ord. “We are one of the last independent names that are exclusively active in the private sector. However, we are not merely a project management company but also act as surveyor who has a close eye on quality and costs. We really provide a fully integrated service portfolio to take into account property- and cost-related aspects. In particular, the latter has become a major point when taking on a new building or renovation project.”
In addition, Gleeds France offers technical evaluation, including all the required reporting. “If a customer wants to acquire a building, we evaluate the current condition and estimate the necessary investments for the coming three, five or ten years,” says Mr. Ord. “This provides the customer with the status quo and enables him to better evaluate an acquisition.”
Gleeds France manages projects ranging from 100,000 to more than 100 million EU, deploying the appropriate staff for every project. As many customers derive from the hotel world and Gleeds France still has a long history of working in this sector and unequalled experience in hotel refurbishment, it is well aware of the challenges it brings about. Previous clients include the Ritz Hotel in Paris.
All hotels have a natural cycle and have to undergo renovation periodically, regardless of the economic situation. “Often it is most favourable that a renovation is carried out when the occupancy level is quite low. It was the hotel sector that led us through the crisis years some ten years ago,” states Mr. Ord. “Today, we experience a strong and dynamic market, especially after the new French government was elected. There is a positive mood in the market right now, and we are experiencing new impulses. However, there are also uncertainties over the effects of the coming Brexit and terror attacks throughout Europe.”
Despite the future challenges that Gleeds France may have to face, the company is highly optimistic regarding both growth and diversification for the upcoming years. “We are a small but committed team that is multi-lingual and knows the French culture, work ethos and administration, which is always a great advantage when dealing with international customers and construction companies,” points out Mr. Ord. “And we are one of the last independent property and construction consultants that have not been acquired by large engineering companies. This also makes us stand out against our competitors.”