Balfour Beatty UK construction boss Nick Pollard steps down

Balfour Beatty's Nick Pollard has stepped down with immediate effect from his position as chief executive officer of UK Construction Services, a role which he has held for two years.

In a statement the contractor confirmed the move. "After two years of leading the UK Construction business, Nick Pollard is stepping down to pursue opportunities outside Balfour Beatty. Dean Banks, who recently joined Balfour Beatty as Chief Operating Officer for the Regional and Engineering Services businesses, is taking over with immediate effect as Managing Director, UK Construction Services, encompassing the Regional and Engineering Services businesses."

Pollard was appointed CEO in June 2013 and has 30 years' experience within the infrastructure market, including COO of Navigant Consulting's Global Construction practice, CEO of Bovis Lend Lease UK, EVP at Skanska plc and senior roles with Network Rail. He has held many independent advisory positions including those with Transport for London, the London Mayor, BIS and the Cabinet Office. 

In an exclusive interview with Infrastructure intelligence in November Pollard said he was expecting 2015 to be a better year than 2014 for the contractor which had endured stormy times.

"We have still got to finish off the contracts that provided us with the storm and some of those jobs are now almost finished while others must continue to their natural conclusions," he said. "We are working our way through the rump of the problems. In the Major Projects and Regional businesses I have been pleased with the progress they are making and not unhappy with Engineering Services - but we are earlier in the process there. We have cut back trading for next year and I look forward to a much better 2015 than 2014."

In March Balfour Beatty announced results for 2014 including a total annual loss of £59M. However the UK Construction business loss was even greater at £118M. The results followed an announcement in January 2015 that a review by accountant KPMG had uncovered £70M in losses.

The firm was appointed in September 2014 and asked to undertake a detailed review of the UK Construction Services’ divisions’s contract portfolio including new wins, looking in detail at Balfour Beatty’s performance in its core skill area of contracting, focusing on commercial controls, cost to complete, contract value forecasting and reporting on a series of troubled projects mostly in the London building market.

Results for 2014 also showed that business revenues were up 2% on 2013 at £8.8bn and the forward order book down 7% at £11.4bn. The Board said the first three months of 2015 had seen significant progress with Board changes, senior leadership appointments, progamme work streams established and consolidation of UK support functions underway. The company is also pursing its Build to Last change programme that aims to deliver a £200M cash flow improvement and £100M cost savings against performance in 2014.

In the Infrastructure Intelligence interview Pollard said that the firm's long term plan was to get back to engineering. "The board’s direction of travel is to simplify the group and get back to the core engineering capabilities. This is definitely about leveraging our intellectual property in construction, civil engineering and building across our markets and making the most of opportunities as economies gently return.

The fact that the business makes some wrong decisions and that perhaps some of its leaders lost their way doesn’t mean we can’t still turn out fantastic projects as we do," he said.

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