Santander Helps Cement Future for Infrastructure Group
Infrastructure company Robertson Group needed a bank that understood how to balance a complex range of requirements.
- Turnover: £300 million
- Sector: Infrastructure and Construction
- An infrastructure company employing around 1,450 people across six divisions.
- In 2013 founder and Chairman Bill Robertson decided to switch banks.
- Robertson Group approached a number of banks, including Santander – who assembled a large corporate project team and relevant Product Partners to understand the company and establish several points of contact.
- Santander won the business due to its in-depth understanding of the property, construction and infrastructure sectors.
- Santander also spent time learning about Robertson Group’s ambitions and processes and this enabled a simple switch in banking.
- Santander became Robertson Group’s sole funder, providing a £15 million revolving credit facility (RCF). It also provided transactional banking services.
- With £1.67 billion of orders on its books, Robertson Group aims to increase its workforce by around 5% during 2015 and Santander is on board to work closely with the company to achieve its growth targets.
From humble beginnings as a local building and maintenance business, Robertson Group has expanded over almost 50 years to become a diversified infrastructure, support services and construction company that employs over 1,450 people across 16 business units. With an unwavering appetite for new projects, the company is pursuing further growth opportunities, supported by Santander as its bank of choice and sole funder.
The story of Robertson Group began in 1966 when founder and current Chairman Bill Robertson completed his apprenticeship and went into business in his hometown of Elgin, Scotland. Two years later Bill seized an opportunity to undertake the company’s first commercial development, and in 1969 the company built and sold its first house. By the early seventies Robertson had secured a contract to build 26 houses.
Decades of growth
Robertson Group continued to grow its construction business organically and through acquisitions, and by creating a number of distinct divisions. Today, Robertson Group business has a turnover of more than £300 million. With divisions dedicated to facilities management, capital projects, timber engineering, private and affordable homes, it has a range of revenue streams and has expanded from its Scottish base to establish a significant presence in the North of England.
A need for change
Throughout most of its history Robertson Group had banked with a single provider but in 2014 the company made the decision to switch – a change driven by the need to find a more supportive bank.
Robertson Group subsequently sought discussions with a number of banks active in its sector – it was looking for a bank who would understand the business and support its ongoing growth plans. Robertson chose Santander from the search.
A personal approach
Santander took the time to understand all aspects of the business, sending in a team that included Relationship Director Jonathan Kelly, Transactional Banking and Liquidity Team Product Partner Mark Peacock, Customer Implementation Manager Andy Thomson and Carl Wade from the Santander Corporate Office servicing centre. The team established close personal contacts, not just with the founder and Chairman but also with his Group Board. “That [relationship building] was very important and I wouldn’t want that to change,” says Bill.
Santander Relationship Director Jonathan Kelly believes that providing the customer with such a wide range of contact points enabled the bank to form a complete picture of Bill’s company and its requirements. “Having people from many different areas on hand meant that we had a much better overview of the company and could therefore be more proactive and supportive in our approach,” he says. “Bill wanted to restructure his company’s current debts and operations while planning for future growth. Understanding exactly what the company was trying to achieve meant we could provide him with a host of potential solutions that could help him achieve the required balance.”
This kind of relationship has always been important to the way in which Bill does business. He won his first commercial project on a reference that said he always finished what he started. Since then he has looked to establish a level of trust in all his business dealings.
A winning simplicity
The Santander team particularly appealed to Bill due to their willingness to establish a close relationship with his company and so better understand its ambitions and requirements.
Impressed by Santander’s approach, Bill decided to move his corporate banking to Santander, who became Robertson Group’s sole funder via a multi-million pound revolving credit facility (RCF), in addition to providing transactional banking services. Both the size of the company and the lengthy period with which they had been with their previous provider, meant that transferring all Robertson Group’s processes was a considerable task. But the Santander team’s comprehensive understanding of Robertson’s processes ensured a smooth transition. “The switch to day-to-day banking has gone very well,” confirms Bill. “Santander’s processes were very similar to those we were familiar with.”
A fair hearing
With a current order book of £1.67 billion, Robertson Group aims to increase its workforce by around 5% in 2015, while the committed funding is a vital underpinning to the company’s growth plans. However, perhaps more importantly, Bill feels that Santander is committed to developing a relationship based on two-way communication. “With Santander I feel it will be an ongoing relationship,” he says. “We’ll be able to discuss our projects and how to fund them.”
Negotiations on new projects are now underway, including plans to develop student accommodation. With funding secured, Bill Robertson and his team are confident they can press ahead with their growth plans, backed by a supportive and proactive bank.
All lending is subject to status.
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Relationship Director Comments
Having assembled a locally based Scottish based project team meant that we had a much better overview of the company and could therefore be more proactive and supportive in our approach.