Take us back: why did you start this joint venture Breedon Bow and how has it developed?
Breedon Bow Highways was formed back in 2015 with a clear ambition, to create a new pavements offering for Highways England. As an independent JV we had guaranteed supply within our JV but also the option to source externally ensuring the best option for the client.
You won a place on the Highways England pavement framework (two years ago?): what has the work been like?
The work has been varied, but we’ve remained fairly busy through what has been a turbulent year, with emergency work in the midlands and had the hand over from Grahams in East to Highways England. In the last year we have now started taking on principal contractor schemes, which is not new to the JV partners, but is the first time its happened on this contract since 2018. Our turnover has grown significantly in the last year and we’ve recruited a great team to support it.
What have been some of your proudest moments working together?
There’s been many proud moments – from the long nights getting the bid submitted in 2017, to our first scheme in the midlands, the commissioning of our first new paver and more recently we’ve just completed our first scheme in Area 7 on the A38. This went extremely well and with such praise from a new client the team celebrated in style with a fish and chip supper! The JV is growing from strength to strength and it greats to see that from a conversation 6 years ago we’re now forecasting double digit turnover going into next year.
What advice would you give to the sector on forming alliances and collaboration? How did you make it work? Why are there still so many gaps in the industry where we don’t work together?
You have to focus on what’s best for the joint venture, play to the strengths of each partner and have the commitment of both organisations at the top level. Thomas Bow has the experience of laying on some of the toughest local authority networks in the UK and Breedon had all the expertise in material supply – together we knew we could work together to bring a strong offering.
You have some excellent examples of collaboration that have been commended by Highways England. Can you detail some of them please?
One of the proudest moments of collaboration was a scheme we did at Great Yarmouth, where Breedon supplied material for a Hanson led scheme at A47 River Yare and in reciprocal collaboration, they allowed our delivery vehicles to pass through their closure, preventing delays caused by using a diversion. By using the site rather than the diversion a saving of 12 driving hours per night were saved, which was a saving of 96 driving hours over the 8 nights.
How do you see the market now as we emerge from COVID?
There is a lot of uncertainty in the private market with the double hit of COVID and Brexit going into 2021, but it’s great to see so much support for infrastructure through COVID from the government and we would urge that this continues, to maintain our assets and support the regrowth of the economy.
Will you be bidding for the next pavement framework (being let in the next year?), what are your expectations for it and what is your offer?
We’ve got a busy programme forecast for 2021 and if the work continues to come through we’d love to still be on the framework in 2022. We expect it will be very similar to today but we’ve now got the benefit of lots of evidence to demonstrate our capability.
Can you tell us what it has been like working with Highways England and through the supply chain? Do you self deliver? How do you work with local people in places?
We self deliver the majority with our own dedicated teams and draw on the resources of Breedon and Thomas Bow to support when the programme requires. We utilise our relationships with specialist subcontractors for cold milling, surface treatments etc and always try to include local SME’s where possible to support our works.
What is your take on how tier 2 and wider supply chain value can be unlocked?
It’s all about ECI for us, we try and work with the same partners continuously and bring them on the journey with us, getting views on how we can de-risk and improve schemes early on to deliver value for the client.
What has alliance working done for your productivity?
We work very closely with Breedon on this JV and are able to share our innovations and developments with each other, be-it the latest health and safety initiative or developments in plant and machinery. But working with the rest of the highways England community is really beneficial, we are continuously encouraged to share our experiences for the good of the community as a whole. We will be working towards ISO 44001 next year with our community partners in pavements and hope to derive further benefits through this process.
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