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EP_19.jpg March/April 2005
Cover Story
Major Project
Speedy Hire

BESIX is an internationally orientated industrial group focused primarily on construction, engineering and property development.


BESIX, Belgium’s largest construction firm is a member of a collection of companies active in the construction and real estate sectors known as BESIX Group. In April 2004, sa Manoci took control of the Group through a leveraged management buy-out, creating new dynamism in the company.

After the management buy-out, the group opted to recast its name around that of BESIX, its largest construction entity and main affiliate. For the group this was an obvious step, as BESIX is a renowned name on national and international construction markets, recognised both for its complex building and its innovative solutions. This made BESIX Group the natural choice for its new name, which, over time, has become a visual label for the group’s fundamental values of dynamism, innovation, commitment to safety, health and the environment, and professionalism.

“BESIX covers practically all fields of construction,” says Werner Dekkers, corporate development director of the Group. “BESIX is a quality concept in the world of construction. Founded in 1909, the business has known regular and impressive growth to become the renowned international player it is today. Indeed, BESIX is active in Western and Eastern Europe, North Africa, Central Africa and in the Middle East through Six Construct, another group member.”

Committed to upholding the highest standards of professionalism and performance, the internationally orientated group realised a turnover of one billion euros in 2005. In these sectors the company aims to be a leading international player, serving Western and Central European markets, as well as being heavily involved on projects in the Middle East and UAE, where it has expanded into one of the region’s leading building contractors.

Werner adds: “Our turnover has been impressive, but we must not forget that 60 per cent of our turnover, in 2005 was generated in our domestic market, which is the Benelux region and France. Working on a turnkey basis, we are the complete contractor and, if possible, we like to get involved on a design and build basis, which makes life easier for our client. An asset to our customers, our strong engineering capability means we can design projects in such a way that many benefits can be enjoyed. We try to make this as easy as possible by getting involved in the project at the design phase, and we have enjoyed success as a result.”

Employing some 1500 university graduates and technicians, in addition to around 10,000 experienced workers throughout the world, BESIX’s people are able to work in a variety of conditions, adapting to extremes of climate, different social practice and cultural behaviour. Indeed, the company works with the local workforce to develop an effective team, which will enable it to understand the regulations and procedures governing construction, while becoming familiar with the climatic conditions that can influence the progress and quality of the work.

“One of the major challenges we face, particularly in our domestic market, is a human resource challenge,” explains Werner. “Labour shortage is an issue all domestic construction companies must face up to. The big challenge for the industry is finding the right people, as we don’t currently have enough skilled personnel. The market opportunities are there, but the human resources are not.”

He continues: “We have good staff retention across our group and many people work for BESIX for many years. This is closely related to our excellent company culture. We have created an atmosphere in which it is a pleasure to work and our workforce has responded well to this. Our values of dynamism, innovation, commitment to safety, health and the environment, and professionalism have helped make BESIX a top-class player, as well as a great place to work.”

With an emphasis on teamwork and the limitless possibilities of collaborative energy, BESIX is proud to announce that, after extensive research by the Corporate Research Foundation in collaboration with Hay Group, it has been named ‘Belgian Top Company to work for 2006’. “This confirms our commitment to our staff and working environment. It is testament to all BESIX management, particularly domestically, who have worked tirelessly to create the company atmosphere, which has served us so well,” comments Werner.

At the start of 2006, Besix also finished the refurbishment of the Atomium in Brussels, Belgium. The 18 million euro project, which included the refurbishment and renewal of the steel structure and the covering of the spheres, confirms BESIX position as a leading Belgian construction firm. The contract also included replacement of thermal insulation, sand blasting, rust prevention and new technical installation, which highlights BESIX’s capability to offer a complete package on a turkey basis.

It is difficult for Werner to make precise forecasts on the future, but companies like BESIX Group must diversify, extending activities over the entire range of projects the construction industry has to offer, particularly as conditions are not as dynamic in Europe as they once were. Diversification is necessary because increased competition in traditional markets is placing pressure on margins. Therefore, BESIX needs to spread into adjacent markets offering both higher added value and recurrent income. What’s more, customers are now calling on construction companies to take on more responsibilities. Customers want finished products and are looking for help along every step of the construction process - hence, the birth of concepts such as ‘design and build’.

The outlook for BESIX, particularly in the international market, is promising, driven mainly by the demand for infrastructure in emerging economies. In the UAE, where BESIX has a longstanding presence, the construction industry is flourishing. The boom that began in Dubai has spread to adjacent countries, particularly Qatar. To take advantage of this growth potential, the company has increased its market coverage in the Middle East.

In domestic markets, BESIX continues to look for opportunities with a particular focus on dealing with the labour shortage Werner mentions. The entry of new countries into the European Union will grow the demand for infrastructure upgrade programs in Europe and ultimately benefit the group. There is also significant growth potential in certain North African countries, where there is a safe and growing business environment, as well as an increasing demand for infrastructure. Due to its knowledge of the construction market, BESIX is well positioned to take full advantage of growth, no matter where it might occur.  CT-E

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