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Customers come first as Wates splits construction arm into four

WATES chief executive Paul Dreschler said a shake-up of the business unveiled this week was driven by 'customer needs' The firm has split its construction operation into four divisions - construction, affordable housing, retail and interiors.

The move follows a six-month review of the business which began last October.

Wates' construction work used to be split between public and private sector businesses.

Wates is also looking at reducing overheads and there have been some job losses among the firm's 1,700 staff as a result.

Mr Dreschler said: 'We restructured because we want to focus on customer needs and be led by their demands.A retail client will have different needs to a commercial office customer.'

He added that construction would account for 50 per cent of turnover, affordable housing 25 per cent, with the remainder split between retail and interiors.

Wates' recent results have been undermined by a poor performance in its separate development division, which caused group pre-tax profits to collapse from £13.3 million to £2.8 million in 2003.