Great Yarmouth construction firm toasts record results

Richard Bateman, Managing Director of Bateman Groundworks Ltd based in Great Yarmouth.Picture: James

Richard Bateman, Managing Director of Bateman Groundworks Ltd based in Great Yarmouth.Picture: James Bass - Credit: Eastern Daily Press © 2015

A Great Yarmouth construction firm is celebrating record results and eyeing further rapid growth on the back of the buoyant housing market.

Bateman Groundworks, based on Marine Park, off Gapton Hall Road, saw turnover rise 28pc to £13.7 million in the year ending 2014 with staff growing by about 20 over the same period.

Managing director Richard Bateman said 2015 had so far proved even more productive, putting them on course for 30pc growth and a turnover of £18m.

He said: 'Our growth is being driven by the success of the housing market but also by the fact we offer a service our clients are looking for.

'We take a different approach to our competitors. We employ professionally qualified site managers who shoulder some of the client's burden concerning site management and we spend a lot of money training staff.


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'Last week we interviewed 24 prospective apprentices and chose 12 who will be taken on in four weeks' time; they will be doing a two year apprenticeship in construction operations with the West Anglian Training Association.'

He said that with no sign of the market slowing it was likely they would be taking on a further 12 apprentices in March and launching a rolling programme of 24 new apprenticeships each year.

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The company, which focuses on the residential housing sector, was launched by Mr Bateman in 1997 as a one-man operation and has grown to nearly 180 staff.

He said: 'We work for a range of blue chip clients, including Taylor Wimpey, Bovis Homes, Barratts and Persimmon Homes, as well as local companies such as Abel Homes.

'We are the first people on a green field or brown field site; we install all the infrastructure work - the main sewers, roads and footpaths - and undertake groundworks for the developer up to finished floor level.'

Mr Bateman, 49, a father of five who lives with his wife and three youngest children in nearby Hobland, south of Gorleston, said: 'We are currently working on 12 active sites across the region with five or six new ones projected to start next year.

'The market is so buoyant we are having to turn down 50pc of work offered to us; realistically the only way we could expand out of East Anglia would be through acquisition.'

He said taking on apprentices was the only path to fuel the firm's rapid expansion as 'the pool of available skilled labour is completely dry'.

'Since 2008, the construction industry has lost 500,000 people and that is projected to continue with a further 400,000 in the next 10 years,' he said.

Mr Bateman, who grew up in Lowestoft and studied at Lowestoft College, said his own company had not escaped the impact of the 2008 crash 'with turnover dropping 55pc and staffing levels 60pc in a year'.

'We saw the first signs of recovery in 2011 and now we are far ahead of where we were before,' he said.

Mr Bateman said that with the oil and gas industry struggling, construction apprenticeships were an increasingly attractive route for local youngsters.

He said: 'The salary scale for my groundworkers compares with entry level police and fire officers but my most senior groundworkers earn £40,000-plus.'

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