Managing Director Gavin Hamblett takes a look at the company’s achievements from 2019 and the challenges faced over the past 12 months, as well as his plans for the year ahead.
Despite the political uncertainty of 2019, overall it was a strong year for Prater; we enjoyed a number of successes – retaining our Investors In People silver accreditation, an exemplary health and safety record, the implementation of a successful apprenticeship scheme, expansion in the North West, and some major project wins - including London City Airport, Soho Place, Dovehouse Street and Manchester Goods Yard, to name but a few.
To win work is always a cause to celebrate, but there were two contract wins in 2019 that particularly stood out, as these were awarded to us based on our demonstrable expertise on the projects’ prior phases - an achievement that is testament to the skill and quality that we apply to each job.
The first is Manchester Airport. Last year was the official opening of Pier One at the Airport, which Prater had been working on since 2017. Following the successful delivery of this project, Prater proceeded to win the contract for another complete envelope package at the airport, this time to the new Terminal Two scheme, making this one of the largest airport projects Prater has worked on.
Following the delivery of the façade at 101 Embankment, Greengate in 2016, Prater was appointed to deliver an extensive scope of works to the second phase at 100 Embankment. This was a particularly challenging project for us due to the curved elements of the structure, which totalled up to six different radii. However, the hard work of the design team and supply chain ensured that the glass, metal work and press metal could be assembled accurately, and the façade package delivered to a high standard.
These projects have helped us to build a strong foundation for future works in the North West, and we hope to expand our project portfolio in the area in 2020.
Another standout moment for me in 2019 was the completion of Wimbledon No1 Court. The team delivered the final phase of this complex project ahead of the 2019 championships, and we had the pleasure of attending the official opening ceremony with the Lindner team. To be part of this iconic site and sharing this moment with Lindner was an incredibly proud moment for me.
Our successes and accomplishments in 2019 are particularly rewarding, as the year was not without challenges. In 2019, the UK experienced ongoing political uncertainty and instability which naturally created a lot of caution around investment within the industry. This had a knock-on effect for us, with project start dates being delayed and pushed back, making it incredibly difficult for us to forecast.
However, looking into 2020 I see this improving. I am hopeful that the current majority government will bring a level of economic certainty – and this can only be bolstered by the government’s manifesto and commitment to infrastructure and the public sector, which will make a huge difference to the construction industry over the next two years.
I also see a need for an industry-wide push to encourage more young people into construction roles. There is currently a lack of experienced resource, especially for design and engineering roles. That is why I think apprenticeship programmes like ours are so important and can really help to build up the knowledge and skillset of the younger generation.
2020 will be an exciting year for Prater – in part, because it will be our 70th year. I hope to use this milestone as an opportunity to really drive the business forward. Whilst it is good to reflect, I want to look forward, and use our anniversary year to continue to build on our successes as a company.
We will be looking to further the Prater project portfolio across the infrastructure, residential and commercial sectors and we will continue our commitment in the North West, which is fast becoming a key area for new construction projects.
I would like to see a bigger push for the use of offsite construction – which offers a number of benefits, from improved on-site safety, efficiency and a reduction in the environmental impact of construction. To ensure the widespread adoption of this practice, clients need to invest in offsite construction and ensure that it is written into the building requirements. Only then, will offsite be effectively adopted throughout the supply chain.
In 2020, Prater will also be investing heavily in training the design team on new 3D design software. The future of construction will see the widespread adoption of 3D design, and I want to ensure that my team are ready to implement these technologies wherever possible.
I am confident with the work we have in the pipeline, and now, a more stable economy and political climate, 2020 will be another strong year for Prater.
As we now celebrate Prater’s 70th year, I am proud to look back at what we have achieved to date, but also excited to see how Prater will evolve.