Interview with Building Magazine: the Past and Future of RLB UK

December 12, 2019.

Interview with Building Magazine: the Past and Future of RLB UK

Following on from our news of RLB UK’s recent restructure, Building magazine interviewed Andrew Reynolds, Chief Executive, Dean Sheehy, Operations Director and Ann Bentley, Non-Executive Director from our UK Board about RLB’s journey, what our independence really means and why we believe that we are future fit for 2020 and beyond.

“Sixteen years ago, venture capitalists tried to pick RLB clean. A management buyout [MBO] saved it and now the consultant is embarking on a plan to double UK turnover to £150m. Dave Rogers asks three of its top team how it survived – and thrived.

The firm’s plan for the next 10 years is light years away from those first few months of the MBO. In a programme set to start next May, RLB aims to nearly double turnover to £150m, add another 500 staff and increase its work in the regions.
Reynolds says key areas over the next decade will be tech, higher education, the pharmaceutical industry as well as so-called blue light work for the emergency services. He adds: “Our core residential is becoming a very strong sector for us too.”

It is for that reason, Reynolds says, the firm has decided to resurrect the chief executive post – last held by Lance Taylor, who did it for seven years and left for Persimmon in 2014. “We’ve reached a point and size where our structure does need to change to satisfy our next strategic moves.”

The firm has 10 offices in the UK with its spine offices stretching from London to Birmingham and Manchester. The three account for nearly two-thirds of the firm’s UK staff, but Reynolds says the regions will grow as politicians, taking note of the Brexit vote, realise London’s dominance needs to be tempered.

“We do see a rebalancing [between London and the rest of the UK] over the next 10 years,” he says. “There is far more productivity to be had out of the whole country.”

Yet Reynolds admits that, until a few years ago, London was just a regional business at RLB. “We were underrepresented here,” he adds. “We did make a strategic decision back in 2015 to say we wanted a proper London business.”

Between one third and half of its UK business will come from the capital and Sheehy, who hails from the East End but now lives near Lincoln, admits: “London is seen as the gateway into the UK, it’s a massive market.

Its new 10-year strategy was 18 months in the making and has just been signed off. The senior leadership team will be boosted by two more senior appointments for a people and culture role and a separate one for digital.

The firm consulted staff about its plans. “Our ownership model is not dissimilar to a small practice,” Reynolds says. “It was important we shared [our plans] and got [staff] opinion.”

“This idea of giving ownership so people can have some skin in the game, an influence, has helped us attract some good people. It’s stood us very well and will stand us very well in the future.”

This is an abridged extract of the interview which can be found in full on Building’s website


Left to right: Dean Sheehy, Operations Director; Ann Bentley, Non-Executive Director, Andrew Reynolds, Chief Executive; Mark Weaver, Commercial and Technical Director; Stuart Stables, Finance Director

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About RLB

With a network that covers the globe and a heritage spanning over two centuries, Rider Levett Bucknall is a leading independent organisation in cost management and quantity surveying, project management and advisory services.

Our achievements are renowned: from the early days of pioneering quantity surveying, to landmark projects such as the Sydney Opera House, HSBC Headquarters Building in Hong Kong, the 2012 London Olympic Games and CityCenter in Las Vegas.

We continue this successful legacy with our dedication to the value, quality and sustainability of the built environment. Our innovative thinking, global reach, and flawless execution push the boundaries. Taking ambitious projects from an idea to reality.