Breakfast on a London site - held during national Construction Week - provided the unusual backdrop for Keith Clarke, Kvaerner Construction chief executive and incoming chairman of the Major Contractors Group, to urge the industry to improve performance.
Speaking earlier today (Friday 23rd April 1999) to some 40 industry leaders and politicians, Mr Clarke said: "National Construction Week gives us the chance to celebrate construction’s successes, however, the industry is having to change. The core of the construction industry is making less than a one per cent profit and it must do better.
"Three years ago Kvaerner Construction was a loss making company. Despite there being no property boom and despite the Middle East economic crash, we are now a business making 1.5 per cent profit on a turnover of £1.5 billion. Some of this improvement comes from our PFI team which is building prisons better than anyone else. Here we are not concerned with the finances, but are concerned with taking on the construction risks and improving our performance all the time.
"We are an industry that can go forward with our clients, if we can build bigger, better, more efficiently and with increased profits. The core competencies within the industry and our skills are enormous, but we must change the way we work or we will have unhappy shareholders and an unhappy future. We must explain ourselves better to our various audiences including clients, the banks and the press - that is our challenge."
The event, held at Kvaerner Construction’s Oxford Circus site, marked the end to a week of events aimed at increasing understanding of the industry. Adrian Montague, chief executive of the Treasury’s PFI Task Force and Lord Archer, Mayor of London candidate, were among those who attended.