Gateway to European Growth

Olivier Gauthier
An influx of opportunities, notably within the pharmaceutical, energy, manufacturing and retail sectors, led to our decision to support our European client base from France.

We anticipate growing European demand for our core project management, cost management and consultancy services, especially in France and the surrounding countries. This spearheads a culture change, as the independent project management and cost management roles have not traditionally been recognised in the French construction industry. Depending on project size and complexity, the architect usually acts as a lead consultant with overall project and cost management responsibilities. The cost manager (économiste) acts as a sub-consultant to the architect.

However, awareness is growing as global inward investors, accustomed to the UK built environment model, demonstrate the benefit of working alongside independent consultancy services. Specifically, our clients in France value our earlier expert engagement with project costs, from feasibility stage onwards, and also the resulting clarity between the parties involved.

As countries increasingly share best practice, we expect to see further standardisation of methodologies in the built environment industry.

As countries increasingly share best practice, we expect to see further standardisation of methodologies in the built environment industry. There is currently limited understanding of Building Information Modelling (BIM) in France, with only a handful of international organisations implementing BIM on their projects. We anticipate that France will take some time to achieve integrated adoption of BIM standards, but our BIM experience in the US and UK helps us to support clients with this approach in any location.

The growth potential that we see in France is especially prevalent in the energy industry, one of our key strategic sectors. We are working closely with one of the industry’s major European players, EDF Energy, supporting its nuclear new build programme in the UK. Our Paris office underpins our relationship with EDF Energy in its home location, and also facilitates our support for NNB GenCo Ltd. We have teams seconded on site in this sector, working as part of our clients’ organisations, at ITER, the international fusion experiment under construction in Cadarache, southern France.

The growth potential that we see in France is especially prevalent in the energy industry, one of our key strategic sectors.

We continue to expand our support for the pharmaceutical industry in Europe, working with clients in France, Belgium, Germany, Switzerland and Scandinavia. Examples of our commissions include manufacturing facilities in Belgium and Switzerland, a new vial filling facility in Switzerland, and an office optioneering review in Sweden.

The hospitality sector is also a growth area. The city of Paris has suffered less than regional France in recession, maintaining its competitiveness as the world’s most visited city. With good air and road links, and high speed rail to London, Brussels, Amsterdam, Frankfurt and Zurich, Paris is a key destination for the conference and exhibition market.

Paris is attractive to hotel operators seeking flagship properties in continental Europe, although barriers to entry include a shortage of development sites and high costs associated with conversion of commercial properties.

The city of Paris has suffered less than regional France in recession, maintaining its competitiveness as the world’s most visited city.

The food and beverage industry is supported by the robustness of tourism, with France increasingly attracting multinational companies to sit alongside its family-run cafés and restaurants. We are working with Whitbread on the roll-out of its Costa Coffee brand in Paris and throughout France. The Paris retail market is well established and the density of retailers is among the highest in Europe, especially around the Champs-Elysées, Saint-Lazare,Opéra and Madeleine shopping districts. The high-end retail market has remained resilient, with strong demand for prime retail space from international brands. We are currently delivering cost management services for international luxury brand Louis Vuitton.

Our Paris office allows us to expand our local team, recruiting and relocating UK-trained French-speaking professionals with an understanding of our key business sectors. The team is demonstrating our expertise for the benefit of our clients throughout Europe.