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New-look Fascel tackles rebranding challenges

F&S Pipework was renamed Fascel last month – the first name change for the company since it was founded 25 years ago. MD Andy Carr explains the process of rebranding a well-established business.

Founded 1989

Location Luton

Specialism Pipework and M&E

Number of employees Approximately 100

Turnover £10m

Mechanical installations company F&S Pipework changed its name to Fascel Group on 2 October this year, the culmination of a year-long rebranding process.

The firm was initially named after its original owners: Neville Forrest, Peter Forrest and Jim Shaw. Those founders are no longer involved in the business, so the current management decided to change the name.

“We’ve given ourselves a new look, as we felt the pipework aspect of the name was holding us back,” says Fascel Group managing director Andy Carr.

“Although around 90 per cent of our work is in pipework, we had to work much harder to let people know that we did more than that.”

Planning crucial for rebrand

The process of rebranding and choosing a new name proved to be something of a learning curve for the business.

“Don’t rush it a rebrand or put specific timescales on when it needs to be finished by. It’s too important to do that”

Andy Carr, Fascel

“It took a year, but it really needed to be right because it was such a big step for us,” Mr Carr says. “We’ve never done PR before because almost all of our business has been on repeat business and reputation, so it was quite challenging.

“We engaged a PR company directly and I think we were a bit more challenging than they thought we would be.”

A comprehensive plan, along with a patient approach, are both essential when rebranding a business.

“You need to have a detailed scope of works so that both you and the PR company know exactly what you expect them to do,” Mr Carr explains. “You can use their skills and get them to enhance what your company already does.

“Don’t rush it and put specific timescales on when it needs to be finished by. It’s too important to do that.”

Structural shift

The structure of the business has also shifted slightly with the name change.

Fascel Mechanical will continue the core business of F&S Pipework, including mechanical installations of heating, cooling, air conditioning and gas. Fascel Fabrication procures prefabrication drawings, enabling its workshop to carry out a percentage of each project’s installation offsite.

Fascel Managed Services outsources pipework packages to subcontractors under direct management by the Fascel team, while Fascel Mechanical & Electrical Services was created predominantly to cater for local government and council framework agreements.

Spring 2014 earmarked for upturn

The firm completes jobs up to a value of £5m – “competing better on the bigger projects”, according to Mr Carr. Turnover peaked at £15m in 2008 but has held steady at around £10m through the downturn.

“The market is still tough and repeat business from our key clients has been a good source of revenue for us,” Mr Carr says.

“Tapping into new clients has been difficult. Many have stuck throughout the recession to the same subcontractors and partners that they know.”

The company is one of the largest specialist pipework contractors in the UK, but this works against it at times.

“I think it will really start picking up in May or June next year, especially with some of the larger projects”

Andy Carr, Fascel

“We’ve found our size can actually intimidate clients – we’ve had to convince them that we won’t poach staff directly, as that’s not the way we operate,” Mr Carr says.

The next year looks more positive for the company, with tentative signs of recovery across the industry beginning to have an effect.

“I think it will really start picking up in May or June next year, especially with some of the larger projects,” he says.

“Education, with the Priority School Building Programme, will provide work, and we’re really hoping that the commercial sector in London will pick up.

“We’ve been doing a lot of work in London in recent years, working on projects such as King’s Cross and St Bart’s Hospital, as well as our biggest contract to date, the Royal London Hospital for Skanska.”

The new-look Fascel Group is hoping to carry on the traditions of F&S Pipework while modernising for the present day.

“We are really keen to be seen to be moving forward – the rebrand is a big part of that,” Mr Carr says.

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