If the Middle East’s most influential construction leaders were to be judged by their achievements, then Hamish Tyrwhitt would stand out for the steady growth trajectory on which he has set his organisation.
Tyrwhitt, in April and November 2016, was named group chief executive officer (CEO) of Depa Limited and Arabtec Holding, respectively. He has been at the centre of a quiet but impactful campaign that has turned around the fortunes of both firms.
Dubai-listed interior solutions group, Depa Limited, posted a net profit spike of 195% for 2017, climbing to $41.8m (AED153.6m) from $14.2m (AED52m) in 2016. Meanwhile, the firm’s 2017 revenue rose by 4% to $490m (AED1.8bn) from 2016’s $460m (AED1.7bn). In September 2017, Depa paid its first ordinary dividend since 2010.
Arabtec Holding has also been on the up since 2017. Shortly after his appointment in November 2016, the company announced it had adopted a three-year Strategic Roadmap that was introduced by Tyrwhitt in January 2017. Around a year ago, the group announced its first quarterly profit since 2014: in May 2017, the UAE-headquartered construction giant reported a net profit of $4.9m (AED18m) for Q1 2017, a $17.4m (AED64m) increase compared to the net loss of $12.5m (AED46m) recorded during the corresponding period of 2016.
Earlier this year, Arabtec Holding revealed that it ended 2017 in the black, with $33.5m (AED123.1m) in net profit. According to the company, its revenue for the 12 months ending 31 December, 2017, reached $2.5bn (AED9.1bn), while its backlog stood at $4.7bn (AED17.2bn).
Arabtec’s 2017 performance was a remarkable improvement over the 2016 financial year, during which the group recorded a net loss of $925.62m (AED3.4bn). Last year also saw the company and its subsidiaries winning work on notable developments across the UAE, such as Wasl Tower, Akoya Oxygen, and Expo 2020 Dubai’s UAE Pavilion.
First-quarter results have been even better this year, with Arabtec Holding announcing a net profit of 261% for the period. Net profit amounted to $17.3m (AED63.6m) in the first quarter of this year, which is more than thrice its Q1 2017 net profit, worth $4.8m (AED17.6m). Revenue during the quarter amounted to $653.4m (AED2.4bn) – 10.7% higher than corresponding 2017 figures – with Arabtec’s backlog valued at $4.4bn (AED16.2bn).
The construction behemoth revealed that it also has a pipeline worth $4.35bn (AED16bn) of “tenders submitted, or under preparation” in its primary market, the UAE.
Arabtec Holding’s turnaround is self-evident, but an amused Tyrwhitt only hesitatingly agrees when asked if he feels ‘comeback king’ is an appropriate term to describe his role at the company. “I would love to be able to take the credit, but the reality is that construction is a team sport,” he tells Construction Week.
“We’ve all worked together [and been] very focused on achieving results and creating a culture of accountability […and] performance. Certainly, both Depa’s and Arabtec Holding’s teams have stepped up to that. So it’s an honour – it’s humbling being called [the comeback king].