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Local firms unite to challenge big boys in the South

SMALL construction companies across southern England are joining forces to form a consortium to compete for high-profile contracts in the region.

The firms, including architects, civil engineers, cladding companies, roofers and other specialist contractors, have formed a limited company called Key Consortia.

Already, 49 firms have joined the scheme. The project, which has grown out of a series of seminars run by Business Links Hampshire to encourage networking among companies in the region, has the backing of developer the Berkeley Group and Portsmouth City Council.

It will enable local firms to bid for building contracts in Portsmouth and Gosport totalling £280 million. These include a £100 million retail and leisure development at Gunwharf Quays for the Berkeley Group and Landlord Property Holdings.

David Buck, network broker with Business Link Hampshire, said: 'A lot of large projects go to the big boys but there are opportunities for smaller fragmented firms to work together instead of in competition.'

Rather than every subcontractor adding its margin at each stage of the supply chain, the consortium could price an entire job and the profit margin could then be shared among the members.

The consortium is hoping to cash in on Ministry of Defence projects following the MoD's decision to review its procurement process.