Providing its construction expertise to everything from a factory in Coventry making electric taxis to Virgin Hyperloop One in India – a super-fast, magnetically propelled train that runs in a vacuum tunnel – Turner & Townsend is a global consultancy whose work spans the infrastructure, real estate and natural resources sectors.
Founded in 1946 as a quantity surveying partnership in Darlington, it is now based in Leeds, with 110 offices across 45 countries and nearly 7,000 employees. It provides cost, management and advisory services to drive better project performance for its clients, from strategy to set-up and all the way through to delivery.
Under chairman and chief executive Vincent Clancy, 56, it has marched steadily up the Top Track 250 league table. Appointed in 2008, the chartered quantity surveyor led the firm to its first appearance in 2009, a year when its new commissions included the Ugandan police force headquarters and sales hit £247.3m.
Now, in its 11th appearance in the Top Track 250, it heads the league table for the first time, thanks to sales up 16% per annum to £744.3m in the year to April – the majority generated overseas from clients such as Microsoft, Nissan and Shell. It has also worked on airports sited from Hong Kong to Peru.
At home, growth has been buoyed by government defence contracts, as well as regional infrastructure programmes by Highways England and HS2.
Clancy oversaw the firm’s switch to a partnership in 2015, which now places ownership in the hands of 93 partners globally, about a third of whom are UK-based. Partners get a share of group profits, which grew 29% to £87.1m this year.
With non-essential construction work having ground to a halt worldwide, Covid-19 has impacted the business. Turner & Townsend has drawn on its experience in Asia during the early stages of the pandemic to improve safety on its sites elsewhere, and to advise clients on emerging health and safety protocols.
It is also investing in sustainability. Before the coronavirus struck, the company said that its future lay in responding to the broader shift towards a low-carbon economy and demand for smart cities – trends the pandemic is set to accelerate.
New commissions include helping the UK’s environmental research station in Antarctica reduce its reliance on fossil fuels, and building a new wharf for the RSS David Attenborough research vessel. Meanwhile, it is delivering a new plastic energy-from-waste facility in the Netherlands and, in the desert of Australia’s Northern Territories, converting a former uranium mine into an environmentally friendly habitat – long-term projects that will benefit local communities.
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