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FK rules out bidding for Gary Neville's St Michael's scheme

FK Group has ruled out bidding for Gary Neville and Ryan Giggs’ controversial St Michael’s scheme in Manchester.

Chief executive Francis Keenan told Construction News FK had ruled out “chasing glamour projects” in a bid to win more work.

Chinese firm BCEGI has already been signed up as construction partner on St Michael’s, but despite FK’s work with the contractor on the £700m Middlewood Locks project and Airport City Manchester, Mr Keenan said it would not bid for the building envelope package on the project if it’s approved.

“It’s a nice-looking scheme, don’t get me wrong, but I wouldn’t want to go near that,” he said.

“I know some people can dot around and chase the higher money and go wherever the prize projects are, but I’d rather have a steady and consistent view of the pipeline that’ll make a better return, rather than chase the glamour projects.”

In an exclusive interview with CN, Mr Keenan also revealed his firm could expand its international presence to Oman and Qatar “if the right project came along”.

The company already has an established Dubai office turning over around £10m a year, and is working on the Al Maktoum International Airport just outside the city.

Interview: FK Group’s Francis Keenan

Read CN’s exclusive interview with FK chief Francis Keenan as he talks about ‘sexy sheds’, European competition, doubling turnover and technological trailblazing.

“We’ll be concentrating on the industrial and infrastructure sectors,” he said.

“I’m not doing a skyscraper on a beach. But there’s a lot of work coming through for the 2020 Expo and to be honest we’re struggling to cope with the [amount of] tenders.”

Major jobs already in the pipeline for the 2020 Expo include the Project Star development, a mixed-use project including a retail mall and two hotels across a gross floor area of 2.3m sq ft, which will be built by Laing O’Rourke.

Mr Keenan also outlined his ambitions to invest in technology at the building envelope firm, which has seen turnover rocket from £43m in 2015 to a record £82m in its financial results for the year to 31 March 2017.

The company is the first building envelope contractor to gain BSI certification BIM Level 2, while Mr Keenan says the firm is eyeing further expansion into offsite manufacture.

“In 5-10 years we’re going to struggle to get lads that get up at five in the morning, drive down the country in a van and nail sheets on,” he said.

“They just don’t want to do it. [But] if you say you’re a digital engineer, it’s like an entirely different industry, and that’s where we’ve got to go.”

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