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Skanska reassures clients after Paul Chandler and Paul Heather exit

Skanska has gone on a charm offensive with some of its biggest clients after two major figures in its building division quit.

Buildings executive vice-president Paul Chandler and its London commercial managing director Paul Heather both left the company within a space of two weeks this month.

The pair were the driving force behind the buildings division and have been instrumental in delivering some of Skanska’s largest commercial schemes, including 30 St Mary Axe, and one of London’s tallest buildings, Heron Tower.

Their departure prompted concern among industry figures about the void this would create in the company, with one contractor source saying it had come “out of the blue”.

Skanska moved quickly to fill Mr Heather’s role by promoting commercial director Steve Holbrook but Mr Chandler’s role remains unfilled.

In an exclusive interview with Construction News, Mr Holbrook said he and Skanska UK chief executive Mike Putnam had already visited a number of clients to reassure them it was “business as usual”.

Mr Holbrook was joined in the interview by Terry Elphick, the managing director of Skanska’s national construction business, both of whom are currently reporting to Mr Putnam until Mr Chandler’s role is filled.

Asked about the role, Mr Elphick said it could “possibly” be one in which he’d be interested, adding that it would almost certainly be an internal hire.

Skanska has won some major schemes in the past few years, including the £1.15bn second phase of Battersea Power Station.

Mr Holbrook said Skanska still had strong teams that were able to deliver.   

“Yes, an individual [has left] but the teams behind still remain stable and strong, and we’ve shown over the last five years through the recession that we are able to deliver,” he said.

“We’ve got teams on all the jobs and the way we tender and look at the opportunities we ensure that we’ve got teams available.”

Mr Chandler and Mr Heather have both moved to other contractors.

Mr Chandler has replaced Dave Smith at Wates as the managing director of its construction business, while Mr Heather has been appointed by Sir Robert McAlpine to head up its London region.

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