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Legacy and Future

Ross Abbate, CEO of newly independent FM provider Macro explains to Sara Bean the rationale behind its divestment from Mace Group and the opportunities he believes it will bring to clients and suppliers

On 31 October, 21 years after the launch of the facilities management division of global consultancy and construction company Mace Group, its FM Operate brand announced a management buy-out and a return to the original Macro name. Macro and Mace Group say they will retain a close relationship, with a transitional services agreement in place for the next nine months to enable the new business to establish its independence.

The MBO was led by Mace Operate CEO Ross Abbate, CFO Chris Bampton and Mark Holmes, who announced his intention to step down as Mace Group’s Deputy Chairman to Chair the newly independent company.

Abbate explains: “We decided on the Macro name because it represents our legacy and future, connecting us to our strong foundations and our significant period of growth from 2002 through to today.”

The continuity of reverting to a familiar brand name is underlined by the fact that Abbate has been CEO of Operate since 2020 and has worked within the business since 2007.

He says: “Within Macro, no change happened between 31 October and 1 November. The only difference is the top company used to be Mace Group and now it’s Macro. Before it was the Mace Group board owners, and now it’s me, Chris and Mark.”

Abbate says that the logistics of running an FM business within a largely construction project led organisation was the catalyst for the change.

“If you look at the Mace Group it was about 90 to 95 per cent construction and consultation, with four engines, Develop, Consult, Construct and Operate. Over time Consult and Construct became the really big engines, and as a result Mace’s future investment plans didn’t fit for the FM sector or the size of our business.

“Earlier this year Mace Group came to this realisation. A good example being we were in the process of getting in a new financial system. FM businesses run differently to contracting or consulting businesses and if we’d gone into the group’s financial system it would have meant a disproportionate cost to our business. The group board decided it was probably time to let us do things our own way and invest in the systems that we need.”

Talking to Abbate just days after the buy-out he explained that there was still a lot to do, but for clients the key message is not just ‘business as usual’ but a fresh opportunity to refine the operational systems to benefit from the agility of not being part of a large corporate brand but operate as an independent and agile business.


Although not one of the biggest players in the FM space, Macro has an annual turnover of £130 million and has built up an impressive global presence over the past two decades.

Abbate explains: “We operate in over 45 countries, and all that growth happened organically – based on our clients asking us to support them within those countries. As clients asked us to go into countries we’d grow into that market. While we never had a strategy of going into a new country with a business development team, we were able to grow organically and could then leverage the overhead in those countries as we acquired more and more business.”

Macro works on a three-hub basis, which is London, covering the UK and Europe, and accounts for about 50 per cent of turnover. Dubai, covering the Middle East and all of Asia APAC accounts for approximately 25 per cent of business. The other 25 per cent operates out of Atlanta in the US and covers North America and areas of South America.

The Macro brand will continue to cover three key areas; managed services, which accounts for 90 to 95 per cent of turnover, an FM consultancy business, which is three to four per cent of turnover, and help desk business fm24, which represents around two per cent of turnover.

Says Abbate: “fm24 is a very solid business, where we offer a helpdesk for existing service management clients but also run it directly for other clients that require a helpdesk. This means we provide a helpdesk for other service providers and we’ll keep on expanding in that space. For instance, we’re turning to look at AI and some of the technology around chatbots.

“The FM consultancy business is based around two main regions, predominantly in the UK and out of the Middle East. It is in the UK where the Mace relationship has been key, for instance supporting Mace in procurement projects, or looking at some operations from an FM perspective, but we’ll also do some work directly for clients, including asset verification and strategy reviews.

“In Dubai, FM consultancy is usually around construction projects, conducting design reviews, putting operational budgets in place etc. So, for the future it’s about strengthening that and making sure that we deliver our skills set across both regions.”

Over the long term, Macro will continue to act as a “preferred supplier” for Mace Group’s own facilities management services including Mace Group’s HQ at 155 Moorgate; but the newly independent brand will now be free to explore potential future joint service offerings to new and existing clients.

About Sarah OBeirne

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