A conversation with William Crook, Group Managing Director

R&M Electrical Group is a Southampton-based supplier of electrical equipment, cable and services to the petrochemical, industrial, commercial and marine sectors, providing the necessary support to the most impressive global sites, from an oil development in Kazakhstan, to an off-shore LNG terminal in Australia.

With 240 employees split over five offices in the UK and six international offices in Singapore, Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Basra, Atyrau and Baku, the company is proud of its 30-year history.

R&M Electrical has grown rapidly over the last few years, posting a 14% revenue growth in 2016 and increasing their staff. This is a great accomplishment, considering that business segments on either side – the start-ups, as well as FTSE giants – contracted in 2016.

Key to achieving this growth was the company’s expansion into new industries, particularly the fast-growing cruise ship business. In 2016, they underscored their growth ambitions by acquiring Lumen International, a Miami based supplier with an extensive network in the hub for American cruise ships, which handles 10 times more liners than Southampton.

Back home at HQ, the immediate impact of the Brexit vote was felt through the increased volatility of sterling. The value of USD-priced tenders, negotiated months in advance, became unpredictable with the currency’s wild movements. But considering the longer-term uncertainty, William Crook, the Group General Manager of R&M Electrical, believes that his company’s agility and resilience will help sustain growth.

“The vote for Brexit underscored the fact that we are living in a world that is changing faster than ever, but our privately-owned company is agile and will be able to adapt quicker than our plc rivals,” says Mr. Crook “We spot an opportunity and mobilise quickly to land it. For our flagship project, the AUD$54bn Gorgon LNG terminal off the coast of Australia, we collaborated with two international partners, and our $160m contract was kept to just one side of A4 paper.”

To keep this strong British company competitive internationally and at home, Crook lists R&M’s key asks of the UK Government:

  • Use domestic infrastructure projects to benefit local suppliers – R&M Electrical would like to see stronger incentives for tenders to be given to local suppliers. He noted that in other markets there “is a real demand for local content” and despite Britain’s reputation for openness, there is scope to do much more to promote local tenders, as it would make the most of the UK’s government spend on infrastructure.
  • Invest in of local infrastructure projects with shorter pay back times – R&M’s agility as a supplier could help make these projects even a greater success.
  • Dedicate training opportunities and programmes for mid- sized businesses, as well as improving the awareness of existing initiatives – a sure way to help mid-sized companies access the support they need.

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