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Scape seeks two firms for £2.5bn FM and civils frameworks

Scape will procure two new frameworks worth up to £2.5bn this year, with single contractors to be appointed for four-year FM and civils deals.

Speaking to Construction News at MIPIM, Scape chief executive Mark Robinson said the FM framework was being set up in response to client demand, particularly among local authorities.

He said: “The framework will be targeted at local government, it’s not so much focused on central government, which has the government procurement service.

“It could range from [clients looking for] a small cleaning contract to a strategic FM partner.”

Mr Robinson said he expected the framework to attract the interest of the top 20 FM providers, which would include contractors such as Carillion and Interserve, as well as outsourcing firms such as Mitie, who would be expected to use a predominantly local supply chain.

Scape will publish tender documents next month and expects a contractor to be in place by the end of the year.

One contractor source told Construction News he was sceptical about the framework working, due to the long-term nature of FM deals.

But Mr Robinson said there would be scope within the four-year framework to secure the contractor on long-term deals.

Following the FM deal, Scape will also go out to market for a contractor for a four-year civils framework, covering deals including flood defence and highways work.

Mr Robinson said: “We think there’s a gap in the market for an easy, accessible framework for clients. It would be broad-based and could include road, rail, bridges and public realm works.”

Asked by Construction News whether a single supplier would preclude the majority of construction firms from bidding, due to the diverse nature of works expected to be procured through the framework, Mr Robinson said he expected to see consortia formed to bid for the deal.

“I think between six and 10 firms [will bid for the deal],” he said. “But there are opportunities for consortia; just because they are single-provider frameworks doesn’t mean it has to be only one [contractor].”

Mr Robinson said the framework could be used for associated infrastructure around High Speed 2, rather than line work, some of which is classified as utilities under EU procurement regulations.

Overseas interest

Scape has received interest from private sector clients such as Rolls-Royce and overseas countries – including the UAE and South Africa – interested in using its frameworks or standardised school Sunesis model developed with Willmott Dixon.

“We are having those conversations and we seem to be having more of them,” Mr Robinson said. “We have opportunities to build up our private sector client base.”

On expanding internationally, Mr Robinson said “never say never”, particularly in mainland Europe, covered by EU procurement regulations. But he said Scape would take “tentative steps” as it was still a reasonably young procurement body.

In April last year, Willmott Dixon was reappointed to the Scape major works framework for a third term in a deal worth up to £1.25bn, when it beat Bouygues, Interserve, Laing O’Rourke, Lend Lease and Morgan Sindall to the deal.

Contractors told Construction News they would reconsider bidding for the deal in future, but Mr Robinson insisted Scape’s procurement process was among the best in the UK and he was confident the new frameworks would attract strong interest.

“We had existing clients involved in the procurement process and they selected the contractor they were most comfortable with,” he said.

“We understand how the market perceives it, but if they know about Scape they know it’s possibly the most robust procurement process [in the UK].”

Mr Robinson said contractors such as Kier and Willmott Dixon had a business model that suited Scape.

“It’s not a normal procurement model and the bad news is it excludes some contractors for bidding on those clients’ work. But the value for the client is that long-term relationship with a contractor.”

Scape is a local authority-controlled company, based in Nottingham, whose shareholders are Derby City, Derbyshire County, Gateshead, Nottingham City, Nottinghamshire County and Warwickshire County councils.

It now represents 380 public sector bodies on procurement.

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