Following another successful year, Managing Director Gavin Hamblett reflects on the last 12 months and shares his plans for 2019.
Throughout 2018, Prater was involved in a number of major projects, including the award-winning Bloomberg HQ in London. Having delivered the entirety of the complex roofing package across the 3.2 acre site, we were all delighted by the news that the project was awarded the RIBA Stirling Prize 2018. Another key project for us was the redevelopment of the iconic BBC Television Centre in White City, London, which has now been granted a new lease of life as a multi-use development.
With infrastructure projects key to Prater’s overall strategy in 2018, it was also fantastic to be able to celebrate the completion of the extensive London Bridge development at the beginning of the year, with the official opening in May by Prince William. Looking forward to 2019, infrastructure is still a major focus and we will be continuing our growing scope of works at Manchester Airport, a flagship project for us. We are also excited to be starting the year with a number of additional infrastructure projects in the pipeline and will be sharing regular updates of these throughout Q1 and Q2.
In 2019, Prater will also be completing the last of three phases at Wimbledon’s Court No.1 redevelopment, which we are incredibly proud to have been a part of, and are very much looking forward to seeing the finished structure in use at this year’s Wimbledon Championships.
Although 2018 was another busy year at Prater, kick-starting a number of exciting projects, it was not without challenges. The demise of Carillion continued to affect the industry, with projects being pushed back to account for closed sites. This, combined with the loss of one of our main competitors, Lakesmere – which resulted in an increase in the amount of project work needing to be brought forward to earlier deadlines – made it a challenging year for our calendar of works. Despite these challenges, we are on target to achieve our budgeted turnover and profit for the year.
However, 2018 was also a significant year of investment for Prater as we continued improving our in-house capabilities with over £200,000 worth of new machinery transforming the production line at both our Crowborough and Thurrock factories.
We were also thrilled to expand and solidify our teams across the UK, with the purchase of our new Manchester office. This has already been followed up this month with the purchase of a Birmingham office – enabling us, as a company, to provide a nationwide service and continue to deliver projects across the country.
As well as production, last year also saw an investment in Prater’s people, launching the reinvigorated Prater apprentice scheme – and out of the 100s of applicants, four apprentices were chosen to start a comprehensive two-year programme with us. Over the two years, the apprentices will work across all of our departments – we will then guide them in choosing the correct path for them, as they kick-start their career with us at Prater. As a company, we are thrilled to be able to assist these young people with expanding their skillset and learning about Prater and the broader construction industry.
In 2019, we will be continuing our effort to invest in our people with the launch of our Evolve programme – an internal development programme that aims to further our training process and assist with personal and professional growth for our staff. As a company, we realise the importance of helping our staff learn and grow, and value the opportunities available to them to be the best they can be in their chosen field.
Prater also recognises the importance of inspiring younger generations to join the construction workforce. This is why, in 2019, we will be continuing to work with schools and colleges – the aim is to help young people see the construction industry as a viable career option and spark their interest in the sector.
Over the past 70 years, Prater’s main goal has been innovation – we continue to look to maintain our reputation as an industry leader and provide consistency in terms of our efficiency as a company, and the high-quality of our work. Throughout 2019, we hope to further our efforts, achieved in part, by ensuring that our design team are fully trained and working in a complete 3D design environment.
I am incredibly proud of what everyone at Prater has achieved during a challenging year for our industry. Thanks to the enthusiasm and dedication of our staff, we can continue to provide our quality and consistency throughout 2019 and beyond.