A new offsite manufacturing factory is part of specialist contractor Stanmore’s ambition to become a nationwide player as it aims to drive expansion beyond London and the South-east.
Headoffice: Erith, Kent
Otherlocations: Sydenham, Swindon (Manchester, under offer)
Services: Drylining, façades, architectural metalwork, glazing
Notableclients: Berkeley Group, Barratt Group, Taylor Wimpey, Countryside, Rydon, Willmott Dixon, Lovell, Wates and Lendlease
Drywall and façade specialist Stanmore marks its 60th birthday with two strategic developments that point to an expansive new chapter in its history.
The Kent-based contractor will open a new 140,000 sq ft offsite manufacturing facility not far from its Erith head office later this year. It has also established a unitised façades division for high-rise construction projects, which it hopes will kick-start it growth plans outside the South-east, making it a national player.
The firm has been growing steadily over the past decade, both in revenue and in the range of services provided. Historically a dry-lining specialist, it now has three other specialist business streams: façades, metalwork and glazing.
“We felt we had the skills and capability to diversify into other trades, but it’s been a gradual progression – we have kept a focus on work quality and on-time delivery,” says owner and managing director Raj Manak.
Stanmore’s turnover has increased from £87.6m in 2014 to £123m for the year to March 2017. Staff levels have grown to 220.
Drylining still represents the lion’s share of revenue at around 55 per cent, with façades accounting for 35 per cent and metalwork the remaining 10 per cent.
Four-fifths of the workload comes from housing, though the contractor also works in healthcare, education and offices.
Notable residential projects include Redwood Park in Rotherhithe, where Stanmore’s £7.6m contract encompassed structural and architectural metalwork, internal drylining, glazing and Metsec framing.
Meanwhile work at Trafalgar Place and MP2 at Elephant & Castle for Lendlease involves over £9.5m worth of glazing and Metsec framing, cladding and drylining works.
Pre-assembly will become a more significant part of Stanmore’s work when the new manufacturing plant opens later this year.
“It will help us to control quality, reduce waste, improve safety, and cut risks,” Mr Manak says. “Brexit may make it harder to source workers, but we can mitigate that by taking more construction processes into the factory.
“More broadly, we feel this is the way the industry is going – the architects, developers and main contractors we work with have signalled that this is the way forward.”
Stanmore already operates an in-house fabrication facility for its architectural metalwork, employing 10 management staff and 45 factory workers, in Sydenham, south London.
“Our metalwork business has helped us understand factory processes, and we currently pre-assemble around 1,000 balconies a year for the housing market,” Mr Manak says.
“The new plant is about moving forward and taking operations to a bigger scale. We will be upskilling our workforce so we can deliver a wider range of products – not only unitised façades, but also utility cupboards, and eventually whole modular rooms and whole houses.”
The factory processes will dovetail with Stanmore’s BIM capability. “All of our 25-strong design team are trained in BIM, and we try to use it when we work with architects, though not all practices are up to speed with the technology yet,” Mr Manak says.
The plant will support Stanmore’s growth plan. “The idea is to replicate the same systems that have worked well in London and the South-east,” Mr Manak says. “We have a strong network of suppliers who are making introductions to client contacts in the new regions we are targeting.”
He adds that the expansion is also about helping staff grow their careers with the business. “We are very proud of our retention levels,” he says, “which currently run at over 98 per cent.
“We want our people to have long-term careers at Stanmore, and our growth plans will give them another reason to stay with us.”