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Attree looks for a broader base for Bluestone

Chris Attree has been appointed regional commercial director for Bluestone's business across the southern region.He talks to Joanna Booth

What are your aims for your region of Bluestone?

Our overall goal is to become a prominent player in a growing market.With the reorganisation of the business our targets and budgets are currently being compiled.The acquisition of Benson gives us a huge opportunity to broaden our client base.

Is that what prompted the acquisition?

This actually happened before my time, but I believe the acquisition was made because Benson did have a slightly different area of the marketplace. It had a different client profile.There was some overlap with traditional Bluestone sectors like health and education, but Benson was strong in different areas.For instance, we're close to local authorities in Dorset and Southampton, but they were with Hampshire and West Sussex.

Bluestone acquired Benson's offices in Southampton, Reigate and Hatfield.Will you be responsible for all of these?

No, only the Southampton branch is moving into the southern operation.We have taken on virtually all of the staff and are now bringing them into our way of doing things.However, we're taking on its best practice too. It is worth saying that the Southampton office was very successful.The projects we have taken over are well run and on programme. The most significant is a large industrial building for contact lens manufacturer Coopervision.

How about Bluestone's own work? Have you got any exciting projects coming up?

Last week we reached financial close on South East Hampshire Lift scheme, which is worth upwards of £3 million.Two projects are already kicking off - Rowner Health Centre started on site this week and next week work begins on a children's services centre in Oak Park.

Is the PFI contract structure one that suits Bluestone?

Yes, a rolling framework style agreement is our preferred method of procurement.

We like to get repeat business.Healthcare is our ongoing speciality, along with education.We'd like to move further into the retail sector if opportunities present themselves.We have just won a site in Bournemouth for developer Helical Retail, and we hope this will lead to other things.

What is your background?

I spent 18 years with Lovell Construction, moving up from trainee to managing surveyor, before moving on to what was Wiltshier, and then Ballast Wiltshier and then Ballast. I was southern region commercial director of Ballast when it folded.

It was a difficult time. Our sector was trading well and profitably.But the withdrawal of our Dutch parent company caused the collapse. I've got a lot of sympathy for the guys from the Southampton Benson office because we were in exactly the same position as them - the problems were elsewhere in their group. It's a sad fact of the way things happen in business.