Face to face: Praveen Sarapure, Brayan Group

Face to face: Praveen Sarapure, Brayan Group
Published: 12 November 2017 - 4:20 a.m.
By: Rajiv Ravindran Pillai

Brayan Group has been around for a long time, with offices in Dubai, India and Africa. Being predominantly an electromechanical MEP company, the company is into MEP contracting, renewable energy, switch gears manufacturing, electrical panels, facilities management, etc.

Summing up the year 2017, Praveen Sarapure, group director and CEO of Brayan Group, says: “The year 2017 was a good year for us. If you see, every year we pick up one subject or one type of construction. The past year, we have built most theme parks. For example, IMG theme park, Bollywood and Resorts theme park, Hub Zero, etc. Brayan was the main MEP contractor for all these parks. Theme parks were the main project for the past two years.

“Before that we did schools for GEMS Education. Then we worked with a construction company, China Railway, where we were involved in high-rise buildings. We also did villas this year. Probably, we bagged more than 170mn AED order for DAMAC Akoya Oxygen. So this year was building villas after villas.”

The above portfolio will illustrate that Brayan Group is very versatile in handling projects. Sarapure said that for repeated clients, their projects range from AED15m to AED200m. He says: “The biggest project we executed was AED220m, while the smallest we have done was AED10m. So we have a small project division and a big project division. We have taken a project for Mai Dubai recently. It’s a small project but Mai Dubai is a good brand name. We are doing a small portion of the MEP works there. Even we had taken one project from a company called Innovations, and they are into staff accommodation. It’s just an AED10m project, but we took it as it’s a repeat client and we don’t want to say no because of payment issues. As long as the client is solid, there is security.”

Current projects and the year ahead

Brayan Group’s order booking is “very full”, says Sarapure. “We are working with good clients like Al Wasl, and we are really picking up big packages. We are almost on the verge of signing around AED300-400m orders in the coming 10-15 days. Apart from Al Wasl, we are also working for four-star hotels. We have completed Emirates Aviation staff accommodation in 2016. We have completed G + 32 building for Sharaf Group and completed two schools for GEMS Education in Al Barsha. We are working with clients who are good and who have sound banking finance. We are very selective.”

“We are increasing our staff strength from 800 to 1,500 now this year, as manpower is a concern. So we are almost doubling our resources. We now have to focus on operation excellency as we have enough projects for the next two to three years,” Sarapure says.

Market Focus

Sarapure says that the company’s focus is to also get more into renewable energy projects. “Our strategy is very simple. We are bidding for the biggest renewable energy plant in the UAE. We want to get into EPC contracting, which is related to renewable energy. We have already delivered two projects. Now we want to get into the Abu Dhabi plant. So we are almost finalising. If that order clicks then we have our foot into renewable energy field. The strategy is getting into renewable energy now.

“Every year we have done something unique. We have loyal clients, and big clients. People tend to approach us,” Sarapure says.

Staying ahead

Brayan Group is not a just a simple MEP contractor but an MEP-EPC contractor, clarifies Sarapure. “Theme parks are not east to do, there are rides, 7D theatres, lighting, etc. to be considered and they are all at great heights. When we started, the first year, we did district cooling plants because of our background. All of Brayan’s staffs are from multinationals like Carrier, York, Johnson Controls, etc.

“The second year we built the Dubai cricket stadium which we still operate; it was a design and build contract. Then, next year we jumped into theme parks, and the following year into schools; this year it was villas. So we do one unique mega project and five small projects. This is how we are different. Our profile is a complete mix. Theme parks, schools, malls, hospitals, even we have contributed to railways, now we are going to take this intelligence to back home in India. At the end of the day, internationally we would like to concentrate having taken the experience of Dubai to India and Africa and wherever it is required.”

“Our employee retention is the major contributing factor. Bryan retains 95% of the employees it hires, and that’s our strength and that is how we are different from the others.”

MEP sector

Talking about the MEP sector, Sarapure says that a lot of big MEP companies have run into trouble. He says: “Whoever survived in 2016 and 2017, they will survive until 2020 too.”

He says that some of the challenges facing the MEP sector are manpower and payments. He says: “Good quality manpower and payments are still the major challenges. There is no security for an MEP contractor. MEP comes almost at the last, if you don’t take precaution, you can get killed any time. But that’s how we are picking the clients, if there is no bank finance, we will not even touch that project. So the challenge is getting payment at the right time. Handling 1,500 people is not an easy task, plus we have manpower contractors to put together, its like 3,000 people will work with us at any given time. Good quality is a big issue.

“Price is still a concern and competition is tough, but now I think there are no more big players are there. This competition might reduce in 2018. Margins will definitely improve.

“Contracting is a game. Basically, there is no place in the world where everything goes smooth in construction. There will always be delays. For example, if there is a delay of eight months then that kills the contractor's margins. If the end user says, ‘I need this school, and the students have to come on the 1st of December, then this project will be successful.’ The contractor will do anything [to complete it], because there is the back up money, but unlike villas, it doesn’t matter, 3-4months here and there, will slow down operations and kill our margins.”

He concludes: “We have experienced everything. We learnt from all good and bad experiences. We want to pick and choose what is good for Brayan. We have taken risks and know what to take and what not to take.

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