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Breaking the mould

Because of its technology credentials, most customers come to Bellrock looking to re-evaluate their estates. Local authorities, for example, may need to collect data about their assets and suppliers and how their buildings are being used. For example, Gateshead Council’s property services section uses the Concerto asset management module to document and analyse all assets across the portfolio, as well as managing specific projects and programmes of work.

Other clients, says Smith, may have tried the TFM model two or three times and decided there must be a better way of doing it, or became worried about the state of the market and chose to take control back in-house. For instance, Tudor Grange Academies Trust, a family of eight educational academies, has been working with the Bellrock technical and real estate team since 2016 to develop a five-year strategic estates plan, setting out the steps to achieve a trust-wide, outsourced facilities management service. They are now the trust’s managing agent, delivering a 24/7/365 service desk, maintenance and engineering services, and HSQE guidance.

Says Smith: “Other customers come to us via the property route, for instance, what to do with their estate from a property perspective, or they’d like to drive down the cost of lease or service charges.”

The Concerto operating platform has been deployed to manage the whole Star Pubs and Bars estate, owned by Heineken, covering over 2,900 locations across England, Scotland and Wales. It covers a wide range of services, including a dedicated 24/7/365 helpdesk and statutory compliance team. Critical asset coordinators also manage all the cellar cooling, heating, hot water and catering equipment failures, which, crucially for a pub chain, means they keep the beer cold. And Concerto underpins everything Bellrock does.

“It’s the thing that differentiates us from much of the marketplace,” says Smith. “The way we see the market is that customers may want to run their own estate, or keep control of suppliers, but they want a partner to help them reduce risk and improve the efficiency of managing the estate.”

Having completed eight acquisitions in the last 18 months, the business rebranded in September, with all the subsidiary brands (aside from Concerto) being consolidated to help clarify the firm’s ethos. The Bellrock name remains, since the group wished to preserve the legacy and history of the business, which is centred around the Bellrock Lighthouse – the very first lighthouse at sea.

Fundamentally, the rebrand is designed to simplify the message, improve brand recognition and make it easier for clients and people within the business to understand how the building blocks fit together. “Customers are understanding there is a different way of doing things,” says Smith. “The technology is there to not only drive efficiencies, but improve decision-making.”

Meanwhile, the business is expected to continue to grow, both organically and via acquisitions. “I would describe us as primarily a technology-enabled workplace management business. If you’re breaking the mould – which we think we are – you’re not constrained. We don’t really have any one competitor working across our supply chain, and our ‘secret sauce’ is the software, coupled with the expertise to understand the market.

“But,” he concludes, “if you had to distil it down, it’s about how we are able to use technology in the FM and property space to improve our customer risk and cost profiles.”

About Sarah OBeirne


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