Paul Bruton Joint Managing Director of Bennett (Construction) Ltd. tells us about the company’s growth since the recession, delivering award-winning projects for clients and building strong relationships.
Bennett (Construction) Ltd. is a fourth generation family-owned contracting and development company with offices and projects in Dublin, London, and Germany. With over 100 years in the industry, the Bennett Group has grown dramatically in both size and reputation since it was established in 1917 and is now one of the leading contractors in Ireland.
Ranking in the top four Irish Contractors in this year’s Linesight’s Handbook, Bennett’s turnover has increased from €234m in 2017 to €325m for this year. Staff levels have also improved, with now in excess of 230 employees. Bennett look forward to 2018/19, which should bring continued growth and anticipated turnover to reach €380m-€400m.
There are some major projects in the contractor’s portfolio. Bennett recently completed the award-winning state of the art educational facilities for the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland on 26 York Street. Paul describes: “The building comprises a state of the art surgical and clinical training suite containing a flexible wet lab, mock operating theatre, clinical training wards, standardised patients rooms, training rooms, a 540-seat auditorium, a library spanning three floors with 500 study spaces, a sports hall and fitness suite.”
In the commercial office sector, they completed the Velasco Office Development at Clanwilliam Place. The project consisted of the demolition of the existing 4 storey Kestrel House office building and the construction of a new 6,573m2, 7 storey in-situ concrete frame office block with a lower ground and basement level. “This building has been certified to the international LEED Gold V4 standard for environmental and energy efficiency,” Paul adds. The Penneys Store Liffey Valley was another major commercial retail project, located within the busy Liffey Valley shopping centre, the store in total consisted of 60,000 sq ft over three floors.
In the residential sector, Bennett completed Kavanagh Court Student Accommodation on Gardiner Street for Global Student Accommodation (GSA). “This was a high-spec new build, which is A rated and BREEAM certified for energy efficiency, overall the building comprised of a gross floor area of approximately 17,000m2 incorporating a 7 storey building all within a perimeter block around a central landscaped courtyard over a part basement,” he tells us. In total 491 bed spaces were provided as part of the development. Paul says “Working closely with the local community, our dedicated supply-chain, subcontractors, designers and our client’s amenable approach were key to a great end result and we are currently working with GSA on their Brunswick Street project which is due for July completion.”
“In the UK, we recently completed FiftySevenEast at Kingsland High Street in London,” Paul says. “This award-winning project included the design and build of a residential-led mixed-use scheme ranging from 4 to 15 storeys containing a unique collection of eighty-three luxury one, two and three bedroom contemporary apartments and 1,060 m2 GIA commercial floorspace.”
In the data centre sector, Bennett previously completed the datahall fit-out of Phase 1 and Phase 2 at Clonee Data Centre and are currently on site completing Phase 3.
Bennett have noticed a move in all industry sectors. “The increased movement has been mainly driven by the commercial office sector, but with a sharp increase in the Purpose Built Student Accommodation sector,” Paul informs us.
Bennett are currently involved with some exciting projects throughout Ireland, UK and Germany, including:
• Point Campus Student Accommodation
(935 student bed spaces).
• Oisín House Student Accommodation for Trinity College Dublin (250 student bed spaces).
• Brunswick Street Student Accommodation (570 student bed spaces).
• The Exo Building Office Development, (180,000 sq ft) a new LEED Gold state of the art office building.
• 91-94 North Wall Quay, a large ‘Grade A’ office building with a GIFA of 25,568m2.
• 76 Sir John Rogerson’s Quay, a mixed-use development with 9,500m2 of office space together with 58 residential units in a mix of 1, 2 and 3-bed apartments.
• Phase 3, 4 & 5 of Greenwich Millennium Village in London which includes the design and build of over 200 residential units, and an energy centre.
• Battersea Exchange, London, a residential development consisting of 78 apartments within 7 blocks ranging in height from 3 to 16 storeys.
• Hounslow House, London, which includes the design and construction of 293 fully fitted and serviced residential units.
• Primark Berlin Zoom, a new 69,800 sq ft retail unit in Germany.
Building Relationships in a Recession
Last year Bennett celebrated 100 years in the industry and have come through the recession strongly. “From the lull of the recession in 2010, we were lucky enough to do a lot of work for Bank of Ireland which consisted of about 70 branches throughout the country and included refresh and future branch models,” Paul says.
In 2011 Bennett also started working with Primark on their 16,500m2 central distribution warehouse, since then they have developed a good working relationship with them and became their number 1 choice of contractor in Ireland and Europe. On the growth of this relationship, he says: “The culmination of this was the completion of their award-winning International Headquarters Office Building ‘Arthur Ryan House’ in Mary Street valued over €30m, we have continued our relationship with Primark having recently completed the retail fit-out in Germany on both their new Bielefeld and Münster stores and we have now returned to Germany to complete the fit-out their new 69,800 sq ft retail unit at ZOOM in Berlin.”
“It’s clients like these that kept us going through the lean times when turnover and staff dropped to €50m and 60 employees,” he explains. “It’s through our dedication and reputation for delivering quality projects on time, on budget in a very open manner that has helped us regain our position in the market today.”
Four years ago, Bennett Construction entered the student accommodation market, this area has expanded rapidly, and to date, they have completed almost 3,000 beds over 6-7 projects. “We see this market continuing to grow over the next 3-5 years and hopefully we will acquire similar volumes of units,” Paul says.
The data centre market is also an exciting market for them, in which they first entered in 2014, completing a data centre for Digital Realty. They are currently working in Clonee with Mace on CLN3 (Phase 3).
Another market Bennett have entered in to is the aparthotel sector, with some exciting new projects about to commence in Strand Street, and the North Docks. They recently completed aparthotel ‘Leman Locke’ in London for Saco. This consisted of a total of 168 serviced apartments, over 24 storeys, divided into 105 studios and 63 one-bedroom suites.
Culture & Work Practices
Bennett took part in the CIF’s Construction Safety Week, promoting best practice in safety. They were the first company to achieve the NISO Gold Standard and the first construction company to be awarded the Safe-T-Cert. Since achieving these awards, they are constantly striving to improve standards and promote best practice in safety and well-being.
“First and foremost the guarantee of the health and safety of our employees and of all those affected by our construction operations is an absolute pre-requisite to conducting any work at any time,” he strongly states. “We have developed our systems and procedures over many years based on these ethics. As a result of this approach and investment, we have won many awards and are ranked among the top performers in the Irish construction industry in terms of the management of Health and Safety at Work.”
“In today’s world, we believe being a responsible company is the only way to do business,” he says. “To be responsible and accountable – socially, ethically and environmentally – is to be dependable and trustworthy.”
The Past Year
“Thankfully we delivered another safe year in 2017 with a continued strong focus on safety and the delivery of quality projects. Construction activity increased in every sector in 2017 and it was a diverse year for Bennett in terms of projects undertaken and successfully completed,” Paul tells us. The continued upturn in the industry has allowed them to develop staff numbers and roles both through organic internal promotions and through the inclusion of new staff members across all disciplines.
Again in 2017, Bennett were successful in achieving a number of Industry Awards. Bennett were awarded ‘Contractor of the Year’ at the Irish Construction Industry Awards, and Leman Locke won ‘International Project of the Year’, while Airbnb won ‘Fit-out Project of the Year’. More recently, at the ICE Awards in March, The Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland won the best ‘Educational/Healthcare’ project and FiftySevenEast, a mixed-use development in London, won the ‘International’ project award. Paul adds that they are proud of the fact that these awards have been chosen by judges who are their peers in the industry both in Ireland and Internationally.
Continued focus on the UK and German Markets has further demonstrated their capabilities of delivering larger scale projects abroad, recently completing the award-winning FiftySevenEast, mixed-use development in London. Their client was extremely happy with this project, and Bennett are continuing their working relationship on another residential project in Battersea Exchange in London.
A Positive Future
The future for Bennett is very positive. “As we continue to grow from strength to strength, we hope to reaffirm our position as one of the top ten contractors in Ireland,” Paul states. Concluding he tells us his intentions. “We will continue to demonstrate to our clients our ability to deliver on award-winning projects. We will continue to build relationships with existing clients and develop new relationships that we feel will continue to our long-term sustainable goals.”
The content of this site is subject to copyright laws and may not be reproduced in any form without the prior consent of the publishers. The views expressed in articles do not necessarily represent those of the publishers. This article first appeared in the ‘Leaders in Construction’ issue of Irish building magazine June 2018.