BDC

Featuring Briton Fabricators Ltd: Interview With Dean Morcom (Commercial Director)

Motorway-Gantries-ready-for-delivery-to-site

Strength In Depth

Capable of design, build, installation and refurbishment, Briton Fabricators has emerged as one of the UK’s most respected steelwork solution providers

(The Following is a Promoted Article)

Now boasting turnover in excess of £14m, Briton Fabricators Ltd has emerged as one of the UK’s most respected steelwork solution providers. Capable of design, build, installation and refurbishment, the company is a specialist in the provision of sign and signal gantries, pedestrian footbridges, road and rail bridges, temporary works, station steelwork, access ramps and stairs. However, its diverse expertise does not stop there, allowing it to confidently tackle many other forms of steelwork. Indeed, more recently it has been involved in a number of projects for the provision of overhead line structures for electrification works.

Established in 1973, Briton began fabricating steel for the oil refinery market out of a 200m² workshop in Kirkby-in-Ashfield before growth necessitated a move to bigger premises in 1978. This saw the production of the company’s first gantry which was installed on the M25 at junction 1. Further development saw Briton extend its capability, diversifying into other construction including stations steelwork, airport links and blast proof barriers.

Exampling its development, Briton’s Plant 1 at Hucknall, Nottingham started with a 450m² bay before a second bay was added in 1980, increasing floor space to over 900m². By this time, the business was a market-leading provider of bridges and gantries allowing it to expand further, adding a third bay in the early nineties to increase floor space to 1600m².

Demand has continued to increase. A new extension in 2007 was added for use as a prep shop, and in 2014 extensions were added to the main fabricating bays taking them from 32 metres to 56 metres in length. Today, Briton has one of the largest manufacturing facilities in the country dedicated to infrastructure engineering. Its plant in Nottingham provides over 2900m² of covered, fully serviced fabrication workshops and has access to 3600m² of specialist protective treatment facility.

In addition, its CE Marking accreditation to Execution Class 4 allows it to tackle anything the infrastructure sector can throw at it, making Briton a vital asset to the industry. This is in addition to other vital accreditations such as RQSC for bridgeworks and LINK-UP for its work as a supplier to the UK rail network. It is also a full member of the British Constructional Steelwork Association.

Indeed, over the last few years, the business has enjoyed significant growth. In less than a decade it has turned over £100m worth of infrastructure work, almost tripling its own turnover since 2007. The workforce on the shop floor has risen by 20%, its onsite staff by 50%. This is in addition to its ongoing dedication to apprenticeship schemes where it currently has trainees in estimating and drawing with ambitions to increase this intake. This sees Briton currently employ around 85 people in total.

The result of its success means the business is increasingly busy across the UK. For example, it’s currently working on a major project in the North West for Mersey link, fabricating and soon to be installing a 65-metre span arch pedestrian footbridge.

Briton also remains active in sectors of key strength – rail station footbridges, motorway sign structures including portal and cantilever gantries, plate girder road bridges, rail decks and its increasing involvement in the construction of overhead line structures. Highlighting its expertise, the company won a BCIA award for its work in Derby for a swing bridge over the river Derwent which has the ability to swing shut in the event of a flood, protecting this asset from damage.

Commercial Director Dean Morcom acknowledges Briton’s widespread expertise, experience and ability to work closely with clients as distinguishing factors of this family-owned business. However, he also highlights the company’s close involvement with major industry bodies such as the BCSA Bridgework Committee (currently chaired by Briton’s Operations Director Carl Powell) and Highways England (Briton represents the Gantry Community on the Collaboration Board) where, it can make a positive impact on sector development.

Importantly, Briton therefore finds itself at the forefront of the sectors in which it operates. It makes it a key industry asset. “Clients are concerned at the moment that the industry isn’t going to be able to deliver Highways England and Network Rail’s increased spend profile,” says Morcom. “So we have Tier 1 contractors advising the need for expansion as they look for increased capability.

“We have taken small strategic steps to ensure the business is in a good place to deliver an improved turnover to these people and in doing that we’ve managed to get ourselves on the Highways England framework to supply sign gantries, for instance. Elsewhere, for the CP5 spend, our work is spread out working for Tier 1 contractors such as VolkerFitzpatrick, Costain and others on frameworks such as Kent and Anglia. We’re also actively tendering for work in the other CP5 regions.”

It means Briton is ideally placed to enjoy further growth in future. “We want to steadily take the business forward with a view to diversifying into other markets; it’s important we don’t stand still. We’ve witnessed some markets dwindle over the years so we must ensure we’re in a position to capitalise on areas of growth.

“For example, we forecast spend in certain sectors is going to reduce in the coming years thanks to a shift in technology and the new plans for squeezing the most out of the current motorways as an asset. To counterbalance this we’re positioning the business to be ready to capitalise on alternative markets where we see an increase in spend/investment. We’re constantly evaluating the industry to see what areas we need to look at in order to continue our success as a company.”

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BDC 299 December 2022