Benoy, the international, award-winning firm of Architects, Masterplanners, Interior and Graphic Designers, has grown its presence around the world in the past 15 years and has attested much of this accelerated activity to the firm’s dynamic Public Affairs agenda. Most recently, Chairman Graham Cartledge CBE DL added to Benoy’s international standing by joining a high-level delegation to Southeast Asia with the British Prime Minister, The Rt Hon David Cameron MP.
The theme of the Business Mission was to promote Trade and Prosperity for UK businesses in ASEAN. The selected members of the programme represented the best of British industry working throughout the region, and Benoy’s inclusion is in recognition of the firm’s commitment to this rapidly growing market.
As the only delegate representing the Architecture and Design industry, Benoy was afforded an unrivalled position to promote UK PLC as well as its growing portfolio in the region. The exclusive group consisted of only 31 UK businesses.
“These events are a great honour to be invited to, and I continue to see their merit after each new Trade Mission,” Graham commented.
Last week, during the stop in Vietnam, Prime Minister Cameron highlighted Benoy’s work in the country as currently very few British firms are actively pursuing opportunities in the market. Recent Vietnamese project wins have added to Benoy’s regional portfolio and are significant additions to the global résumé.
Whilst in Malaysia, Graham hosted the infrastructure roundtable discussions in Kuala Lumpur with one of the country’s leading property developers. The event, a formal part of the delegation’s programme, focused on the opportunities for new projects around the city and the wider market.
Running parallel to the Prime Minister’s tour was the Northern Powerhouse Mission which consisted of several business representatives from UK companies from the north of England. Included on this Trade Mission was Neil Kee, Divisional Director from Benoy’s Singapore Studio.
During a joint session between the two Missions, Neil spoke on a panel, ‘Growing Trade and Investment Links between the UK and Singapore’, highlighting Benoy’s path to establishing itself in Singapore, from working on the landmark ION Orchard almost ten years ago to the prominent position Benoy is fortunate to hold today.
Throughout the time in Southeast Asia, Graham had several chances to meet with senior government officials from the four countries as well as top business executives who are actively looking for new commercial partners; thus further strengthening Benoy’s ties across ASEAN.
A decidedly positive affair, this Trade Mission comes at a time when Benoy is growing throughout the entire Southeast Asian region. The firm’s studios are seeing new enquiries and appointments as the practice becomes more well-known due to its roles on, for example, Changi Airport’s new Terminal 4, Indonesia’s Ciputra Artpreneur and Malaysia’s Tanjung Aru Eco Development masterplan. Each of these projects represents a different strength within Benoy’s comprehensive portfolio and the delegation has opened new doors for the practice to reaffirm this regional presence.
15 Years of Public Affairs and Growth
Benoy’s first venture into foreign markets was into Europe in the 1990s. Following this, in 2001 came the opportunity to work in Asia, with the firm’s appointment to Elements in Hong Kong; the catalyst to Benoy’s growth in the East. Committing to an international portfolio has resulted in greater prospects for the firm, and by enthusiastically exploring work abroad, the company’s overseas trade now accounts for 80% of Benoy’s business.
This positive trajectory has been achieved in part through a proactive approach towards the opportunities presented by the UK Trade & Investment and other governmental and quasi-governmental organisations. Benoy is a proud member of the China-Britain Business Council (CBBC), the UK-India Business Council, the UK-ASEAN Business Council and the UK-Kuwait Business Council. Graham is the Vice Chairman of the CBBC and plays an important role on the Advisory Board of the other aforementioned organisations.
This presence has helped form closer ties with the government and opened doors for the practice in new markets, such as Southeast Asia on this most recent trip.
Due to the prominence of Benoy’s immense portfolio, Graham has joined senior UK government officials on multiple delegations to China, India and the Middle East.
Benoy was recently introduced to and successfully attained future projects as a result of a previous trip with Mayor of London Boris Johnson, attended by Global Operations Director Tom Cartledge last autumn. As a result of the delegation, the firm has been appointed to work in Australia and subsequently, Benoy has opened a Marketing and Liaison Office in Melbourne to support these new commissions.
Both Graham and Tom have been a part of several Trade Missions now as have a number of other senior Benoy figures, who can attest to the great role they can play in facilitating Benoy’s own goals. Whether it is winning new work in well-established countries or entering new markets, these governmental excursions provide ample opportunity.
Almost 70 years since its foundation, Benoy is now working in over 60 countries and reviewing potential projects across the world.
The Global Team works from 11 studios across ten time zones. Their continued work producing innovative designs continues to result in new project wins, including appointments in North and South America in recent months, so confirming Benoy as a truly Global Design Brand.
Benoy’s growth is in large part due to the dedication to not only pursuing new markets but also maintaining existing ones. Retaining close relationships with clients throughout the years has allowed Benoy to build a wider portfolio which may not have been available without these valuable collaborations.
As the global economy continues on its cyclical path, Benoy is seeing a strengthening of the Middle East and parts of Europe once again and perhaps a balancing, slight ‘pause for breath’ in the Chinese market which retains positive growth projections.
Alongside the extension of its geographical reach, Benoy is also diversifying its expertise across the sectors, especially in the first half of 2015. Aviation, Education, Hospitality, Towers, Residential and Leisure have begun to complement Benoy’s core of Retail and Mixed-use. These new areas of achievement have signalled the further evolution of Benoy and the growth of its repertoire.
“Our Global Studios are experiencing greater interest than we have ever seen before in my 40 years with Benoy, and I am proud to see the new markets, sectors and clients joining the Benoy portfolio,” Graham said.
He continued, “Coming home from this most recent delegation, I am eager to continue the many conversations I started on the ground in Southeast Asia, not only with potential clients there but with people discussing opportunities around the world. As we live in a truly connected environment today, and as a Global Design Studio, we are in a great position to design for clients anywhere in the world – a testament to the unique Benoy Offer.”