Pantera Group Ltd

A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by Pantera Group Ltd'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 Pantera Group Ltd 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
Pickles signature Rt Hon The Lord Eric Pickles

www.panteragroup.com

BEST PRACTICE SPONSOR 2020
THE PARLIAMENTARY REVIEW
Highlighting best practice
14 | CHASSAY+LAST ARCHITECTS
35 per cent affordable housing, this
new method can be invaluable. Beyond
permanent residences, this technique
can also be used as temporary and
relocatable housing for vulnerable
people, and we are currently studying a
site in Hornsey where we aim to provide
30 units for single, vulnerable people.
Adapting to a changing
industry
The main challenge in our industry
is the increasingly onerous planning
process and the hurdles developers
face. There is an ever-increasing list
of reports these developers must
complete and more and more work
that needs to be done even for the
smallest of buildings. This increased
workload has also caused significant
strain within planning departments
themselves; many are overloaded
and continue to struggle even with
the support of PPAs. The same is true
for building control departments in
local authorities, and this can cause
developers to change to using private
contractors, which often leads to a
lower standard of work than if the
local authority were able to complete
it themselves. Our strong relationships
with local authorities do help to
mitigate these challenges, but the
high rate of staff turnover in these
departments makes it difficult to build
long-term and lasting relationships.
Planning consultants can act as a
useful interface between developers
and authorities, but more needs to be
done to make this process smoother.
The other change within the industry
that has forced everyone to adapt
is the increasing need to study
environmental impact as a result of
climate change. A key element of
this is the problem of overheating
buildings. As the level of insulation
has increased, focus has shifted from
the need to heat buildings to the need
to cool them. As with many issues
we face, the industry has adapted to
provide solutions, whether through
the use of prefabricated buildings to
deal with the lack of skilled labour,
or the increasing use of air source
heat pumps to provide a more
environmentally conscious way of
cooling buildings.
We plan to continue this trend of
adaptation and embrace new models
of construction and new models of
housing. We want to refine the co-
living and co-working model, working
on micro flats with large, communal
facilities, and work with our clients
to develop new, more sustainable
construction methods. By continuing
to adapt, we are confident we can
continue to prosper.
We want to
refine the co-
living and co-
working
model,
working on
micro flats
with large,
communal
facilities, and
work with our
clients to
develop new,
more
sustainable
construction
methods
Traditional meets
modern
15PANTERA GROUP LTD |
HOUSING
Managing Director Peter Mills
(left)
Supply and fit
wardrobes
Pantera Group started out in the refurbishment sector as
a man-and-van operation. Its early team balanced the
responsibilities of finding, winning and undertaking new
work with the challenges of being a start-up specialist carpentry
contractor. Twenty years later, and now under the watchful
eyes of two former Laing Homes directors, the company has
evolved from a small team to turn over millions of pounds from
supply and fit carpentry. Managing Director Peter Mills says
the firm boasts several flagship residential schemes among its
portfolio of completed supply and install projects.
Based in Kent, the company operates in and around London and the South East
using a nationwide supply chain, including several European partners. Although the
current market requires innovation, our key focus over the last 12 months, and the
coming year, has included adapting the business for fire regulations, funding business
growth and addressing the diminishing number of tradesman in theindustry.
Fire regulations fit for a modern organisation
It is no secret that two years ago the entire industry was woefully undereducated
with regards to fire regulations in residential dwellings. In the wake of the Grenfell
disaster, we responded immediately, reviewing all current installation practices and
identifying a need for widespread education across the business. We proceeded to
train fire door installers and developed robust business systems for the appropriate
management of fire-stopping installation.
FACTS ABOUT
PANTERA GROUP LTD
»Managing Director: Peter Mills
»Started in 1998
»Based throughout London and
the South East
»Services: Supply and
installation of carpentry and
joinery, including our own
range of wardrobes
»Turnover in 2018: £20 million
»Awards include Subcontractor
of the Year 2013 and 2014.
ROSPA Gold Award 2019,
Considerate Contractors
Bronze 2019
Pantera Group Ltd
THE PARLIAMENTARY REVIEW
Highlighting best practice
THE PARLIAMENTARY REVIEW
Highlighting best practice
16 | PANTERA GROUP LTD
We are now audited by the
International Fire Consultants and
have developed systems throughout
the business to ensure all installations
are fully compliant. It can be easy for
installers to slip into rules of thumb,
but this is not applicable to fire-
stopping and therefore competency
at all levels of the business is essential
for ensuring correct procurement and
installation of fire doors.
Funding growth
In 2015 we embarked on our most
challenging and ambitious project to
date, the prestigious One Tower Bridge
for Berkeley Homes. Stepping up to a
contract of this size required careful
consideration and management of
our finances throughout the scheme.
This opportunity was made viable by
Berkeley Homes signing up to the
28-day payment charter, ensuring
we received payment of our interim
valuations within 28 days. The better
than 30-day payment timetable
ensured we were able to successfully
cashflow the project.
Contracts that are subject to
prolonged or late payment can cause
cash issues within the wider business.
We pride ourselves on prompt payment
of our supply chain; therefore, the cost
of cashflow in the business, where
our payment terms exceed the supply
chain’s terms, reduces the operating
capacity and profit of the company.
Throughout our growth, all overdrafts
have been personally guaranteed by
directors, offering their own homes as
collateral. The UK banking sector seems
to have lost interest in the specialist
contracting sector and we have found
it hard to obtain meaningful lines of
credit, even with our longest-standing
banking relationships.
This overly cautious approach is not
replicated in the supply chain, where
we have regularly been extended
credit of up to £750,000 with 60-day
payment terms and no requirement for
personal guarantees.
A continuing challenge threatening the
business and restraining reinvestment
in the company is manifested in
developers and main contractors
continuing to hold cash retentions.
Of our current live contracts, all have
a cash retention being held by the
employer. At year end 2018, close
to £1 million of the business’s cash
was held as cash retention, with over
three-quarters of this sum held by
self-developers, thus they are not
subject to a retention themselves.
For SMEs, the payment of a five per
cent retention can be the difference
between a project recording a
profit or a loss. The financing costs
Perforated steel panelling at 250
City Road for Berkeley Homes
Backlit feature map wall joinery
in the spa at 250 City Road
In the wake of
the Grenfell
disaster, we
responded
immediately
BEST PRACTICE SPONSOR 2020
THE PARLIAMENTARY REVIEW
Highlighting best practice
16 | PANTERA GROUP LTD
We are now audited by the
International Fire Consultants and
have developed systems throughout
the business to ensure all installations
are fully compliant. It can be easy for
installers to slip into rules of thumb,
but this is not applicable to fire-
stopping and therefore competency
at all levels of the business is essential
for ensuring correct procurement and
installation of fire doors.
Funding growth
In 2015 we embarked on our most
challenging and ambitious project to
date, the prestigious One Tower Bridge
for Berkeley Homes. Stepping up to a
contract of this size required careful
consideration and management of
our finances throughout the scheme.
This opportunity was made viable by
Berkeley Homes signing up to the
28-day payment charter, ensuring
we received payment of our interim
valuations within 28 days. The better
than 30-day payment timetable
ensured we were able to successfully
cashflow the project.
Contracts that are subject to
prolonged or late payment can cause
cash issues within the wider business.
We pride ourselves on prompt payment
of our supply chain; therefore, the cost
of cashflow in the business, where
our payment terms exceed the supply
chain’s terms, reduces the operating
capacity and profit of the company.
Throughout our growth, all overdrafts
have been personally guaranteed by
directors, offering their own homes as
collateral. The UK banking sector seems
to have lost interest in the specialist
contracting sector and we have found
it hard to obtain meaningful lines of
credit, even with our longest-standing
banking relationships.
This overly cautious approach is not
replicated in the supply chain, where
we have regularly been extended
credit of up to £750,000 with 60-day
payment terms and no requirement for
personal guarantees.
A continuing challenge threatening the
business and restraining reinvestment
in the company is manifested in
developers and main contractors
continuing to hold cash retentions.
Of our current live contracts, all have
a cash retention being held by the
employer. At year end 2018, close
to £1 million of the business’s cash
was held as cash retention, with over
three-quarters of this sum held by
self-developers, thus they are not
subject to a retention themselves.
For SMEs, the payment of a five per
cent retention can be the difference
between a project recording a
profit or a loss. The financing costs
Perforated steel panelling at 250
City Road for Berkeley Homes
Backlit feature map wall joinery
in the spa at 250 City Road
In the wake of
the Grenfell
disaster, we
responded
immediately
17PANTERA GROUP LTD |
HOUSING
associated with protracted payment
terms and cash retentions ultimately
increases the cost of construction and
contributes to the volatility of specialist
contractorsurvival.
Operating our business without cash
that is held up in financing extended
payment terms and as a cash retention
is a challenge. Our growth, however, is
further inhibited by the limited number
of projects for which we are able to
provide performance bonds at any
one point. We feel our growth could
be slightly less restricted if bonding
and parent company guarantee
requirements were either relaxed or
used instead of cash retentions, not in
addition to them.
Responding to a changing
workforce
We are yet to see a slowdown in
project numbers as a result of Britain’s
planned exit from the EU. We have
seen, however, that the number of
workers returning from Eastern Europe
after planned holidays has reduced.
While this has not always directly
impacted upon the joinery workforce,
it has affected other trades on which
our work depends.
We try to stay on top of labour force
management, endeavouring to keep a
core of tradesmen who buy in to the
company ethos. By ensuring all workers
are paid in full and on time every
fortnight, we have built a reliable core
of capable tradesman. The essential
values of the company are passed down
to the workforce, and the company’s
professional identity and standards
are evidenced in everyday practice,
from wearing branded workwear and
premium safety equipment to investing
in premium tooling.
That said, we are witnessing a
deskilling of the workforce through
the introduction of price-work fitters.
While the industry trend, for time,
quality and safety reasons, is to move
production of items off-site, this is
leading to a gradual loss of specific
skills from the carpentry industry,
the replacement being price-work
fitters. Tradesmen are self-branding
themselves as first fixers or second
fixers, and are often not only unwilling,
but also unable, to competently
undertake works that fall outside their
skillset but which would once have
fallen within the traditional skillset of
the carpenter and joiner.
We have operated an apprentice scheme
for over 18 years, with the focus of
this being to ensure that graduates
finish as rounded, multidisciplinary
tradespeople. With low industry uptake
and reduced training opportunities due
to prefabricated elements delivered
to site and continual apprenticeship
scheme funding changes, providing
suitable on-the-job training has been a
genuinechallenge.
As we look to the future, we aim to
expand our services offered within the
sector by bringing to market several
new joinery products and utilising our
ISO quality management systems, FSC
for sustainable timber and Achilles-
accredited processes to manufacture
these products and deliver them to
sites and purchasers using our FORS
Silver-accredited fleet.
We aim to
expand our
services
offered within
the sector by
bringing to
market several
new joinery
products
First fix and joinery
installed at The Dumont
for St James

www.panteragroup.com

This article was sponsored by Pantera Group Ltd. 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 Elizabeth Truss.

Rt Hon Elizabeth Truss's Foreword For The Parliamentary Review

By Rt Hon Elizabeth Truss

Even by the standards of the day –this has been one of the most exciting and unpredictable years in British politics.

The leadership election we’ve just seen marks a huge moment in our country’s history. This government is taking a decisive new direction, embracing the opportunities of Brexit and preparing our country to flourish outside the EU.

As international trade secretary, I’ll be driving forward work on the free trade agreements that are going to be a priority for the government. Free trade isn’t just an abstract concept bandied around by technocrats. It is crucial for a strong economy and for the ability of families to make ends meet. Free trade benefits people in every part of our country, as British firms export to new markets and people doing the weekly shop have access to a wider choice of goods at lower prices.

The essence of free trade is in the title: freedom. It’s about giving people the power to exchange their goods without heavy government taxation or interference. Commerce and free exchange are the engine room of prosperity and social mobility. I’m determined to tackle the forces who want to hold that back.

One of my priorities is agreeing an exciting new free trade deal with the US, building on the great relationship between our two countries and the Prime Minister and US President. But I’ll also be talking to other partners including New Zealand, Australia and fast-growing Asian markets.

And with the EU too, we want a friendly and constructive relationship, as constitutional equals, and as friends and partners in facing the challenges that lie ahead – a relationship based on a deep free trade agreement. Our country produces some of the world’s most successful exports, and the opportunity to bring these to the rest of the world should make us all excited about the future. It is this excitement, optimism and ambition which I believe will come to define this government.

For too long now, we have been told Britain isn’t big or important enough to survive outside the EU – that we have to accept a deal that reflects our reduced circumstances. I say that’s rubbish. With the right policies in place, we can be the most competitive, free-thinking, prosperous nation on Earth exporting to the world and leading in new developments like AI. To do that, we’ll give the brilliant next generation of entrepreneurs the tools they need to succeed. Since 2015, there has been a staggering 85 per cent rise in the number of businesses set up by 18 to 24 year olds – twice the level set up by the same age group in France and Germany. We’ll help them flourish by championing enterprise, cutting taxes and making regulation flexible and responsive to their needs.

As we do that, we’ll level up and unite all parts of the UK with great transport links, fibre broadband in every home and proper school funding, so everyone shares in our country’s success.

2019 has been the year of brewing economic and political revolution. 2020 will be the year when a revitalised Conservative government turbo charges the economy, boosts prospects for people across the country, and catapults Britain back to the forefront of the world stage.



Rt Hon Elizabeth Truss
Secretary of State for International Development