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In Conversation: Concorde BGW – Is this the hippest workplace in the North?

Words: Polly

Photos:  Concorde BGW

“We believe that we can inspire everyone through our passion, expertise and innovation to entrust us deliver their ambitions with excellence, every time.”
Richard Wilson 2019

Tell us a little bit about Concorde BGW Group
It all started with Richard Wilson, Director and Owner of Concorde BGW, over 25 years ago. He started work as a young lad labouring with his dad on sites. He moved into a brief football career which was going well until he obtained an injury, this led onto him buying the site Concorde BGW Group sits on now in Doncaster, picking up from where he left off working with his dad, and the rest is history.

We are design and build specialists producing outstanding projects in a range of buildings throughout the UK. Our clients occupy many sectors and range from pubs, bars and hotels to insurance companies, universities and schools.

Our team are also experts in the preservation of properties, we operate nationwide delivering reactive and planned maintenance services to ensure your facilities remain in the best condition possible. On occasion we have been the sole reason a building hasn’t shut down, for example, The Up in Arms in Oxford had a dedicated local campaign to prevent the site from being demolished and turned into flats. Once the decision was reached, the owners, Dodo Pub Co, contacted us immediately to restore the local treasure.

Although we prefer to shape each project from the first sketch to the final stitch, our design, build, branding, 3D visual and maintenance services can be selected individually to suit your requirements.

Behind the scenes you will find a team of x88 talented designers, 3d visualisers, branding experts, quantity surveyors, account managers, accountants, HR managers, marketeers, health and safety officers and Directors. We all believe in and follow a set of five clear values which are integrity, clarity, teamwork, innovation and pride. These values shape our individual behaviours and therefore the way the company behaves.

Our values help us work through any challenges we may face and help us recognise and celebrate our achievements. They guide us in our dealings with colleagues, customers, suppliers, partners, shareholders and the communities we serve.

“We will be the number one choice for clients looking to engage with a design, build and maintenance company within the hospitality industry.” – Richard Wilson, Mission Statement. 

What is your group design ethos?

We work hard to push boundaries, innovate and inspire be it as a new modern design or a funky twist on a more traditional design. Our key focus is to make something that will be profitable for our clients. Guy Bostock, Concorde BGWs second Director/Owner always asks, “will this put another pound in their till?”

We try to get the client thinking about things from both a design and functionality perspective, we want them to spend money in the right places and get the perfect combination of beauty and something that will bring in the big bucks.

Your accolades list is insane! Awards include; Winner of Restaurant & Bar Design Awards 2013, 2016 & 2017, Shortlisted in 2018, and Winners at the Northern Design Awards 2019.
We certainly have won and have been shortlisted for quite a few awards over the past 2 years! We are very proud of them and it has been great to share in the success with our clients too. Its good to know it’s not just us that think their venue really does have the best interior design around.

Which, has been your most successful project, either in terms of awards garnered, or the one you’re most proud of?
In terms of awards, happy clients, design originality and the success of the venue, I would say The Bedford has been the project we are most proud of. It’s also our biggest project to date with a budget of 3 million pounds!
Its retro grandeur and art deco styling were hard to achieve but work so, so well. The design challenges we faced, such as allowing for a passenger lift to be installed through 3 floors of concrete were hard to say the least. We had to complete all the works in 14 weeks so The Bedford could open its doors pre-Christmas and we did it!

Describe one that stands out for all the wrong reasons;
Our job for Naafi’s Camp Bastian in the Falkland’s was very difficult, meticulous forward planning was a must for lots of reasons. When we work abroad we have to pack containers with materials and furniture in the right order to suit the project programme, these then get sent to site 8 weeks before we start so they can get there by boat in time, so if a container goes missing it can have a knock on effect with the programme.

During the Camp Sebastian project we had a container full of equipment that went missing. We had to pay rent on the lost tools for the next few years as they never came back! We also had to get permission from the military to get tools sent out on a plane to make up for the ones we lost. Thankfully they approved the shipment which allowed us to complete the job.

You also have to bring back everything you take, we can’t dispose of or leave anything, from rubble to a tiny little spanner it all came back with us. The rule was you leave nothing behind.

Other issues we often come across are when a landlord doesn’t complete their shell works. This delays our programme of works which can be frustrating. Working in London is often difficult due to delivery and access restrictions. For example, at The Bedford we could only have weight and load skips, with deliveries only permitted at certain times.

Can you recall one of the very earliest, if not the first project ever done? How do projects run now in comparison?
In the early days it was much smaller projects run by much smaller project teams. Drawings and visuals were all hand drawn and coloured, rather than CAD, which was too futuristic. There weren’t emails either, so everything had to be done by post or fax meaning extended project lead times. Today we operate with a much bigger team, we have a total of 88 people and we’re still growing. Our team includes our own in-house Health & Safety Manager, Facilities Management/Maintenance Team, 3D Visualisers, branding team and our own furniture production workshop.

Nowadays, client expectations are also higher, there is so much competition, especially within the hospitality industry. Immediate access to design ideas and emails mean people want things now. Plus the commercial nature of many projects requires a fast turnaround. How long operators can be shut for adds pressure. 

You recently exhibited at the Independent Hotel Show, London. In what ways do you stand out from the competition and how did your exhibition space communicate this?
We put as much effort into our stand as our projects. Our stand is a comfy, inviting space with eye catching furniture, colours and accessories that are all on brand. We want it to feel like an inviting space, a social space, somewhere you can be yourself in because that’s who we are. Plus, we pack it full of beers – just adding to the fact we’re social people who design social spaces!

A unique feature of our stand is the virtual tour area, experienced using our virtual reality googles.

Our 3D visualiser creates new virtual spaces for each exhibition to really showcase what we can do. Virtual reality has way more impact than a 3d sketch because it’s an immersive technology. It’s an opportunity for visitors to our stand, who may not have come across us before, to step into and explore a virtual representation of a design as a whole, experiencing fully what we are capable of creating.

What’s in the creative pipeline right now?
A funky bowling alley, a flagship project in Wembley for a key client, a major refurbishment of a clients’ head office, as well as taking on a selection of new clients such as a spa, and independent clients in a range of sectors such as private hotels. As well as continuing with our new reactive and planned maintenance services, to ensure sites remaining in good condition even after handover day.

What’s the best thing about working with Concorde?
The passion we have to do the right thing for a client and provide the best for the client. We’re approachable, we have a family feel, connect with people and we all pull in the same direction.

How do your staff roll on the weekend?
Generally, we’re all a social bunch, we do a lot of social stuff at work, our company culture is to encourage team work, just the other day we we’re all making Christmas wreaths in the office after work with a bit of mulled wine to help us along the way. Due to the nature of the business being in hospitality, a lot of our designers like to visit competitor sites to keep track of what’s going on, plus we all love a gin. We are all also pretty much an office of dog lovers, or anything with 4 legs! One dog is so famous it was featured on the front cover of the shooting times as dog of the week.

Both Directors are very sporty, Richard is taking part in another grueling charity event – a 4-day cycle from Seville in Spain to Lisbon in Portugal in July 2020, raising money for Dallaglio Rugby Works, a charity that provides support to teenagers outside of mainstream education to reintroduce them into sustained education, employment or training.

A direct quote from the mad man himself – “If work doesn’t kill me this will.”

Is there a standout employee you’d like to champion?
Lorraine – notorious Lorraine. Head of interiors and all-round superstar. She makes our upholstery dreams a reality and organises those difficult deliveries. Once we bought her a cat called Tartan when her cat died – she hasn’t stopped smiling since.

Concorde BGW

UP NEXT: A Concorde BGW Project Case Study – on putting the oomph back into Ed Sheeran’s Favourite Pub – The Bedford

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