In the latest construction industry Q&A, in association with West Midlands Centre for Construction Excellence (WMCCE), a panel of experts were asked: Do opportunities really exist for Midlands firms to get involved in the preparations for the 2012 Olympics?
Coun Chris Saint, Chair of the West Midlands Leadership Group for the 2012 Games and member of LOCOG’s Nations and Regions Group.
The London 2012 Games presents a huge opportunity for businesses here in the Heart of England West Midlands region. The Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA) and the London Organising Committee for the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) expect between them to allocate an estimated 75,000 business opportunities for direct contractors and their supply chains. These and other related contracts are estimated to be worth in the region of £6 billion. Many of the contracts let to date by the ODA have been won by small and medium-sized companies and the vast majority of business opportunities remain to be let over the next three years. All companies, from global players to local SMEs can benefit from the opportunities that the London 2012 Games present and in the West Midlands that is already translating into real business wins.
In January 2008, the West Midlands Leadership Group for 2012 and Advantage West Midlands launched the CompeteFor system here in the region. CompeteFor.com is a national online ‘dating agency’ which allows companies to sign up to receive information automatically on tenders that are relevant to their sector. Since we launched that initiative here in the West Midlands, nearly 50 contracts have been won by businesses based right across the West Midlands”.
David Roberts, Director, E H Smith Specialist Facades Ltd.
It had occurred to me to pursue some questions following a special Olympic business event in Sandwell on May 21, when the excellent Midlands Ambassador, Dave Moorcroft, told us all how it was “Our Olympics” and there was an opportunity “for everyone to compete”. Commercially when chasing work there’s only one “gold”, bronze and silver mean you’ve not won! We are not afraid of not winning but what is so irritating is not even getting an entry!
At the event was also present John Armitt, chairman of the Olympic Delivery Authority (after a number of West Midlands protests for not finding any interest in their services), stated that “it’s like any other business, you may have to make up to 100 calls to get one positive listener”. 100 to 1 odds even to business gamblers, even if they don’t get disheartened, are very long odds!
I think all the deals are done already for the construction opportunities. The Athletes Village has been particularly hard chased from my point of view – and it’s been a wild goose chase – more obstruction than construction! So my experience leads me to suggest that few if any opportunities for building projects exist at present and as 2012 looms large, will they occur?
Lance Taylor, chief executive of Rider Levett Bucknall.
As with all major events the consultants and main contractors have long since been appointed to the 2012 Olympic Games and work is well underway. However there are still opportunities for the sub contractor market to secure work and these will cascade down the supply chain until they reach the more temporary supplier requirements of tents, seating, and even washroom specialists. On the operational side there will be demand for hospitality, catering and retail concession.
The question as to whether the Midlands is better placed than any other region in the UK is a different matter. The remaining opportunities to secure work will be sector driven rather than geographically focussed and be extremely price sensitive.
In the property and construction sector tender levels continue to fall and this trend shows no signs of abating. Main contractors are continually testing the market to achieve lower prices or ‘best value’. Work will be secured on the basis of the ability to provide at the right price.
Those serious about being part of the games will have been be tracking the Official Journal of the European Union (OJEU), London 2012 Business e-alerts and the web link www.London2012.com/business. It lists all tenders and contract opportunities available to everybody, setting a fair and equitable scene from the start. Everybody is in with a chance.
What we do have to do is to maximise the spin-off explosion of tourism and leisure opportunities that is set to land on our doorstep as a direct result of the Games. I speak from experience here. The Rider Levett Bucknall office in Sydney confirmed that it was the Olympic Games 2000 that really put the city on the map, creating a new era of tourism for Sydney as well as the country itself.