4 M Floors UK

A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by 4 M Floors UK's best practice article

The ability to listen and learn from one another has always been vital in parliament, in business and in most aspects of daily life. But at this particular moment in time, as national and global events continue to reiterate, it is uncommonly crucial that we forge new channels of communication and reinforce existing ones. The following article from 4 M Floors UK is an attempt to do just that. We would welcome your thoughts on this or any other Parliamentary Review article.

Blunkett signature Rt Hon The Lord David Blunkett, MP
Pickles signature Rt Hon The Lord Eric Pickles, MP

www.4mfloors.co.uk

14 M FLOORS UK |
BEST PRACTICE REPRESENTATIVE
Helicopter landing pad at a
hospital
Floor installed in a
Marston’s brewery
Founded in 2010 in its present incarnation as a buy-out from
a large construction company, 4m Floors UK is an industrial
flooring contractor. It installs specialist floor finishes – screeds
and surface coatings – in both new-build and refurbishment
situations in the UK domestic market. The company’s
installation work includes floors in factories, warehouses, car
parks, hospitals and prisons. Chairman David Roache tells
The
Parliamentary Review
more about how it has grown into a
profitable business.
Since the business was established in 2010, when, as a division of a large
contractor, it was haemorrhaging cash and profits, it has become one of the largest
industrial flooring contractors in the UK with a turnover of nearly £4 million. We
employ 20 people with a small office-based staff of seven, the rest being site-based
contract managers and operators. In addition, we use subcontractors employed
on a weekly basis as the workload dictates. Our customers include many of the
largest contractors and end-user customers, and we are particularly strong in the
automotive, engineering and food sectors.
Our process
In most cases we install a flooring finish to a concrete slab. This will either be in
a newly constructed building or one that is being refurbished. In the former, the
floor finish is usually designed, and materials specified by the designing architect
or engineer. In a refurbishment situation, the end-user will ask for tenders for a
REPORT CARD
4 M FLOORS UK
»Chairman: DavidRoache
»Founded in 2010
»Based in Newcastle-under-
Lyme, Staffordshire
»Services: Installing specialist
floor finishes in new-build and
refurbishment situations in the
UK domestic market
»No. of employees: 20
4 M Floors UK
THE PARLIAMENTARY REVIEW
Highlighting best practice
2| 4 M FLOORS UK
loosely specified floor. We will have
a greater influence on the ultimate
design and material specification in
thiscase.
Floor finishes serve a number of
purposes. At their simplest, they
provide an easily maintained
surface that is more user friendly
than unfinished concrete. In most
installations the specification seeks to
enhance the floor in some way. Floors
can be designed to be non-slip, anti-
static, hygienic and extremely hard-
wearing, and they can also incorporate
in-floor heating. Floors can be created
with inbuilt markings delineating lane
markings, parking bays, pedestrian
walkways and even corporate logos.
We work closely with the contractor
or end-user, depending on who the
specifier is, and with the manufacturer
of the flooring product to ensure
that the particular specification is
met. Floor coating manufacturers
produce a wide range of materials
to suit particular applications and
while there is considerable overlap
of products between manufacturers,
some have specialist products that
may suit a job better than others.
There are around eight manufacturers
supplying the UK market and these
are generally divisions of large
chemical manufacturing businesses.
The materials are resin-based
products with various additives and
pigments to give them certain specific
characteristics. We buy products from
both UK and continental European
suppliers and resin prices generally
fluctuate on a broad oil/bulk chemical-
influencedbasis.
Once a contract has been won,
usually after a very competitive
bidding process involving several
flooring contractors and material
manufacturers, an installation
programme is agreed. Contracts can
vary significantly, from those that take
a few days to install to those that may
take many months to complete. We
undertake contracts ranging from less
than £10,000 up to £1 million in value.
Given that flooring is often the last
element of a building to be installed,
we may find ourselves waiting to
get on site with the contract facing
delays or postponements. Our contract
planning has to be sufficiently flexible
to accommodate this.
At the most fundamental level, we are
selling a relatively simple floor covering
to suit a particular requirement, but
what the customer is expecting is
Floor installed at a large
manufacturing plant
We work
closely with
the contractor
or end-user,
depending on
who the
specifier is,
and with the
manufacturer
of the flooring
product to
ensure that
the particular
specification is
met
34 M FLOORS UK |
BEST PRACTICE REPRESENTATIVE
far more complex than that. In most
circumstances the floor surface is
a small element of the overall cost
of a new-build or refurbishment
project but the chances of this aspect
causing problems are high. We are
often working in a live situation – an
operational automotive assembly
facility – where any delay can cause
enormous repercussions. In a new-
build situation, any delay that is a
result of flooring may mean that the
end-user client cannot take possession
on time. Therefore, what the client is
in fact buying is far more than a simple
floor coating: they need flexibility,
efficiency, speed and accuracy with the
minimum of disruption and maximum
compliance, as well as adherence
to all relevant health and safety
regulations. If we cannot deliver those
fundamentals, then it really doesn’t
matter how well the floor functions or
how cost-effective it might have been
– we will have failed and will certainly
not win repeat business.
Inherent problems
Our business occupies a small sub-
set of the UK construction sector, an
uncomfortable position. Our situation,
in common with many subcontractors,
is that we are the very thin filling in a
rather fat sandwich. Our customers
are either main contractors, making up
about 80 per cent of our turnover, or
large end-users – in other words, large
and powerful businesses.
Our suppliers are largely substantial
divisions of powerful chemical
manufacturers. Typically, we are
offered short payment terms by our
suppliers and are forced to take
lengthy payment terms from our
customers, therefore squeezing
liquidity in a most uncomfortable way.
The nature of contracting means that it
is very difficult, if not impossible, for a
business of our size to obtain any form
of financing for the long debtor terms
we suffer.
It is usual, on protracted contracts,
to submit monthly applications
for payments. These will then be
scrutinised by the main contractor’s
quantity surveyor and often marked
down to a smaller amount, often
for relatively spurious reasons. Once
approved, these payments go into
a deferred payment system, often
resulting in payment terms of 90 days
or more. Contractors will also deduct
a retention from the overall contract
value. Such retentions are notoriously
difficult to recover, often taking up
to two years to collect or becoming
lost in final account reckoning.
Despite many promises by successive
governments, no tangible help to
mitigate the imbalance of relative
strengths in this type of situation has
been forthcoming. In our small sector,
in common with many others where
no leverage can be obtained, we are at
the mercy of very powerful businesses
and solvency is a daily battle.
What the
client is in fact
buying is far
more than a
simple floor
coating
Installation at a large
sports arena

www.4mfloors.co.uk

This article was sponsored by 4 M Floors UK. The Parliamentary Review is wholly funded by the representatives who write for it. The publication in which this article originally appeared contained the following foreword from Rt Hon Michael Gove.

Rt Hon Michael Gove's Foreword For The Parliamentary Review

By Rt Hon Michael Gove

This year's Parliamentary Review comes at a momentous time for parliament, as we collectively determine the destiny of the United Kingdom. 

On October 31, the UK will leave the European Union. The successful implementation of this process is this government's number-one priority.

Three years after a historic referendum vote, we will deliver on the decisive mandate from the British people. Trust in our democracy depends on it. Until that final hour, we will work determinedly and diligently to negotiate a deal, one that abolishes the backstop and upholds the warm and close relationship we share with our friends, allies and neighbours in the EU. But in the event that the EU refuses to meet us at the table, we must be prepared to leave without a deal.

As the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, it is my job to lead on this government's approach, should that scenario happen. Preparing for Brexit is my department's driving mission. But while I am leading this turbocharged effort, the whole of government is committed to this endeavour.

Ministers across Whitehall are working together to ensure that every possibility is considered, every plan is scrutinised and every provision is made. A daily drumbeat of meetings means that we are holding departments accountable, so that preparations are completed on time.

The chancellor has confirmed that all necessary funding will be made available. And we have mobilised thecivil service, assigning 15,000 of our most talented civil servants to manage our exit from the EU.

We will make sure that on November 1, there is as little disruption to national life as possible. Our trade relationships will continue to thrive, thanks to agreements with countries around the world worth £70 billion. Our country will remain secure, thanks to nearly 1,000 new officers posted at our borders. And the 3.2 million EU nationals now living and working among us can remain confident, with absolute certainty, of their right to remain in the UK.

Above all, our goal is to be transparent. Soon, we will launch a public information campaign so that citizens, communities and businesses are ready and reassured about what will happen in the event of “no deal”.

In my first few weeks in this role, I have travelled to ports and tarmacs, borders and bridges, all across the UK –from the seaside of Dover to the rolling green hills of County Armagh. I have heard from business owners and border officials, farmers and hauliers. They are ready to put an end to uncertainty. And they are ready to embrace the opportunities ahead.

Our departure from the EU will be a once in a lifetime chance to chart a new course for the United Kingdom. Preparing for that new course will be a herculean effort. But this country has made astounding efforts before. We can do it again.
Rt Hon Michael Gove
Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster