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AvH Contact: John-Eric Bertrand
With a consolidated turnover of 195 million euros in 2016, Van Laere Group realized a 14% increase compared with last year, which means a very high level of activity. The commercial efforts of recent years have clearly paid off. Nevertheless, this turnover trend was accompanied by growing pains. The combination of tendering costs for major future projects, weaker figures at the subsidiaries, and especially a heavy loss-making project pushed the group into the red.
Algemene Aannemingen Van Laere
The high level of activity was especially noticeable at the parent company Van Laere. It was particularly active on the Tour & Taxis site in Brussels, where the 66,500 m² Herman Teirlinck building, Belgium’s biggest passive office building, will accommodate 2,600 civil servants of the Flemish government from 2017 onwards. 115 apartments were also built as part of a number of projects for Extensa. In the residential sector, the Regatta and Hemixveer 1 projects were successfully completed for Vooruitzicht, and the Hemixveer 2 project was started up. Construction work continued on the Verrewinkel apartment project in Uccle for Bouygues Immobilier.
Its strict safety culture and sound approach earned Van Laere several contracts at Brussels Airport. The Passport project was built for Codic, while the nearby Gateway project was completed for Codic and Immobel.
In the office market, the Design & Build project Imalso for the refurbishment and construction of offices for the Flemish government experienced considerable delay. In Brussels, the Square de Meeus and Montoyer office projects were started up for Leasinvest Real Estate. In Utrecht in the Netherlands, a cinema complex for Kinepolis was completed successfully and in a short time.
Van Laere was still particularly active in the DBM programme ‘Scholen van Morgen’ (Schools of Tomorrow). In the course of 2016, no fewer than nine schools were completed, and construction work began on a school in Laken, while the 30- year maintenance phase for the completed schools started to run. The Karel de Grote Hogeschool in Antwerp was completed as well.
In the care sector, the 120,000 m² AZ Delta hospital in Roeselare was completed, and a contract was landed for the conversion of an office building into a residential care centre in Brussels for Cofinimmo.
In the manufacturing industry, Van Laere worked on the BASF site in Antwerp and on the site of Genzyme (Sanofi) in Geel, and the cleanroom for IMEC in Leuven was completed. A 44,000 m² distribution centre in Marche-en-Famenne is nearing completion.
The car park segment remains important. Construction work began on the underground car park Speecqvest in Mechelen, commissioned by Q-Park, while construction of the car parks under the ‘Gedempte Zuiderdokken’ in Antwerp, for the same customer, will start in 2017.
Van Laere invested in its future in 2016 by increasing its workforce and by implementing the Secure programme, which focuses on operational excellence, lean building, and innovative techniques such as BIM (Building Information Model). This programme, in which more than half of the employees are actively involved, will continue in 2017. In commercial terms, Van Laere continues to invest in key accounts and building team formulas. This produced an attractive order portfolio. Van Laere is also a member of selected consortiums that take part in tenders for major infrastructure projects such as the Antwerp Oosterweel Link.
Thiran reported a turnover that was 13% down on 2015 in a difficult market. The delayed start of a number of projects caused a shift of turnover and margin to 2017, while a loss-making project led to a negative result for Thiran as well. Thiran remains an established name in the hospital sector, where it is valued for its high-quality work. The order book for 2017 is promising, yet the pressure on margin remains high.
This contractor specializing in restoration work, and highly dependent on public contracts, experienced a difficult year. The turnover growth target was not reached, and there was a considerable turnover of staff which had an impact on the progress of certain projects. The workforce has been strengthened, yet the market remains difficult due to current government spending cuts. 2017 should mark a return to profit.
Alfa Park performed fairly well in 2016, with attractive service level agreements being concluded with key accounts, turnover in the existing car parks steadily increasing to full capacity, and costs decreasing. Nevertheless, Alfa Park still failed to make a positive contribution to the group’s result. In 2016, time was taken to reflect on how the growth of these activities can be speeded up, on the basis of the existing platform that has developed successfully.
The first half of 2017 will be characterized by a lower turnover, since there are many projects for key accounts and in building teams that will only reach the execution phase in the second half of 2017. At 127 million euros, the order book for 2017 and subsequent years is already well filled, especially as this does not yet include the projects that have been won since, such as ‘Gedempte Zuiderdokken’ project in Antwerp. 2017 will be a year of transition, with work continuing on the operational excellence programme ‘Secure’.