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Building was 'too risky', says Gleeson

GLEESON has revealed more details about its decision to pull out of building, which will see 500 staff transfer over to a new business.

The company is negotiating with a team led by current building boss Martin Smout and hopes to conclude the deal by the end of June.

Chairman Dermot Gleeson told Construction News this week that the group could no longer carry on supporting a business that lost over £16 million in the six months to December.

He said: 'We decided the risk-reward ratio in building was unattractive and unlikely to improve.

There is a way forward based largely on partnering or negotiated work but there are a lot of one-off clients.

'In our particular case it was a question of deciding where the most attractive areas of business are and we had better things to do with our time, energy and money.'

Last week's decision prompted group managing director Andrew Muncey to resign and was made just months after he began a two-year plan to overhaul the division.

This would have seen 80 per cent of the firm's workload take on partnering and negotiated contracts with the remainder made up by traditional jobs.

But Mr Gleeson said: 'The debate at the board was whether that aspiration was realistic.'