Partnerships pay off for Wallis

ONE of Maidstone's oldest companies has built turnover by forming special links with supermarkets and other clients.

Wallis, based in Hart Street, Maidstone, for more than a century, earned £135 million in the past year, up by around £4m on the previous 12 months.

The award-winning construction and joinery firm, part of the Kier Group, has worked on a number of key projects, including the Australian War Memorial at Hyde Park Corner, in London, recently unveiled by Australian Prime Minister John Howard.

Wallis is building a De Vere hotel off the M20 at Junction 6. Other projects include Sheppey Hospital, opened by Prince Andrew earlier this year, and work at two major cricket grounds the Oval and Lord's (a pavilion facelift).

Richard Bush, who recently took over from Martyn Wright as managing director, said the key to the company's success was its "strategic alliances."

Speaking at the firm's annual reception for 400 guests in The Great Hall, Lincoln's Inn, London, he said 60 per cent of its projects came from long-term relationships with retailers such as Tesco, Waitrose and Sainsbury's.

Wallis built the controversial Tesco store at Tenterden, and completed the facelift for Waitrose at Allington, near Maidstone.

"People are looking to form longer-term partnerships," Mr Bush said. As an officially approved "Procure 21" contractor -- one of only 12 in the country -- Wallis is set to win a lot of health authority and other public sector projects.

Mr Bush said: "The Government has taken a lot of tax and we think that in the next couple of years they will want to be able to say that they have built schools and affordable homes."

Wallis, founded in the 1860s, employs 280 staff at its Hart Street plant. Kier's turnover last year was £1.5 billion.

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