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Simon Harris, CEO of Avrenim, Identifies Growth Opportunities in 2024

Growth Opportunities in the UK FM Sector 2024:

The UK presents several promising growth opportunities in 2024, driven by key elements within the FM sector. My view is that the short-term fix and replace strategy applied to lots of estates across the country will develop into a more structured forward looking capital investment program approach. This naturally raises challenges as well as opportunities. If we take the NHS estate backlog for example, this has risen nearly 14% to £11,6 Billion. How will this be funded on top of ongoing operational costs when all trusts are under pressure to reduce costs? A similar situation will play out in many organisations across the UK in 2024. We have also seen numerous buildings close while detailed surveys for RAAC are completed, again leading to a necessity for a more strategic approach to asset management.

During 2024 technology and particularly AI, renewable energy solutions and skills availability will continue to focus massively in any asset managers inbox.

How do we position ourselves to leverage these opportunities? We will be focusing on innovation, sustainability, and business resilience. We see potential in contributing to the country’s digital transformation, sustainable development, and advancements in workplace technologies.

• Key Investment Opportunities:

I believe the market investment strategy over previous years will continue for 2024 with multiple transactions being concluded consolidating organisations into larger entities. Those investments are likely to align with global trends and address societal challenges. There will be high activity in ventures related to clean energy, artificial intelligence, and biotechnology. Additionally, the significance of ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) considerations may well prioritise companies demonstrating a higher commitment to responsible business practices.

• Crucial areas for Growth:

Building strong alliances with innovative startups, established enterprises, and research institutions will be crucial to capitalise on the continued data revolutions and efficient utilisation of the AI capabilities available. Digital platforms and e-commerce channels will also play a vital role in expanding our reach and connecting with a broader audience to demonstrate the impact of what we do every day.

• Operational Reforms Boosting Productivity:

In 2024, we will see organisations reviewing and implementing some of the following reforms:

1. Technology Integration: Embracing cutting-edge technologies to streamline processes, enhance communication, and facilitate data-driven decision-making.

2. Talent Development: Investing in continuous training and development programs to empower our workforce with the skills needed to navigate a rapidly evolving business landscape and further develop their soft skills as real face time becomes more important to achieve goals.

3. Sustainability Initiatives: Implementing eco-friendly practices across operations to reduce environmental footprint and align with sustainability goals.

4. Supply Chain Optimisation: Organisations will continue to drive supply chain resilience through advanced logistics, digitalisation, and strategic partnerships to mitigate risks and improve overall efficiency.

5. Customer-Centric Approach: Prioritising the customer experience by leveraging data analytics to understand customer needs better, personalise services, and improve overall customer satisfaction.

All of the above areas that will be a focus for our industry needs a UK Government that sets policy and supports organisations to achieve their ambitions. No doubt we will see a change of Government in the UK during 2024. Latest thinking would suggest a general election in the Autumn which means more uncertainty for industry as the usual parade of promises with a real lack of substance behind them will ensue ( I draw attention to the latest SNP action call for independence based on every Scottish based person being £10k a year better off in an independent Scotland! A bold claim with no substance)

Whoever is in Downing Street late 2024 our industry needs a clear long term strategy to deliver against the ambitions of COP28 and many other policies. How do we achieve fossil fuel free energy production when our infrastructure isn’t able to accommodate the required influx of energy at a local level? How do we achieve the level of infrastructure investment required when the country’s debt is the highest since 1961(101.2% of GDP)?

Our young engineers of the future need to see policy in action to offer them the ability to shape their career and their environment’s future by learning key skills and tangibly feeling they can make a difference! This needs to be at a very early age in the education cycle and needs the learning and development programmes massively updated and including businesses in the sector to keep it real for our new generations. Currently it is too far removed to have a major impact.

Businesses also need wider support to stimulate growth. The level of tax burden placed directly and indirectly on business today in the UK is having a major impact that is clear to see. Any UK Government has to take a bigger picture view past a single cycle of parliament and support deep seated growth for our communities and particularly for SME’s which if done effectively will boost treasury revenue by default.