Sir Robert McAlpine is one of the longest established construction companies in the United Kingdom. The company started trading in 1869 and now employs a total of 1,500 people, producing a turnover of £1.1 billion. Sir Robert McAlpine covers a wide range of engineering and construction projects such as petrochemical, power generation, oil and gas production, pharmaceutical, chemical, mining, water and nuclear industries.
One of Sir Robert McAlpine’s key strengths is the depth of experience that the company can offer customers. It operates in a highly technical sector which is not particularly price sensitive, but nevertheless does require technical excellence. Entering the heavy construction industry is difficult for new companies; therefore, the long standing name that Sir Robert Mc Alpine has developed is one of its primary strengths.
Due to the company’s superb and strong reputation in the construction industry, Sir Robert McAlpine has been involved in some of the highest profile buildings in the United Kingdom, such as the Millennium Dome, the Eden Project and the Emirates Stadium. It has recently signed an agreement to build the Olympic Stadium for the London 2012 Olympic Games.
Due to the continued expansion of the company, there is a potential weakness in terms of geographical disparity of the workforce. Sharing information and technical expertise is fundamental to the development of a company such as Sir Robert McAlpine. In addition, having a spread out workforce is a potential barrier to this development. The projects that the company works on are generally long term, tying up a large amount of labour and finance, before the project is complete. Whilst payment schemes will take this into account, such long term planning can result in short term cash flow difficulties.
Construction, as a whole, is undergoing a difficult time. It is threatened by the lack of available projects, meaning that every company has to work that bit harder to attract the lucrative contracts. Most large contracts are offered either by the government or by multinational companies which require that certain criteria are met. Failure to meet these criteria can result in the loss of a contract, even if the company is seemingly the best for the role.
Cost pressures are huge on a company such as Sir Robert McAlpine and, in this context, care needs to be taken to ensure that all staff are being used to their total capacity. Furthermore, technical expertise of the key individuals is at the heart of the business and any staff losses could potentially be disastrous for the company, particularly if these key personnel were encouraged to join a rival firm.
However, Sir Robert McAlpine has a market leading reputation and, as such, it can bid on some of the most prestigious projects available. Where criteria in relation to size or expertise are used in the selection process, Sir Robert McAlpine will almost always perform well in comparison to its competitors.
It is the size and history of the company that presents both the main opportunities, as well as the threats that it is currently experiencing.
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