Though the financial crisis left an adversely altered economic environment in its wake, the 18 months since Cyprus bail-out have seen local businesses begin to follow the path to recovery.
Despite the particular challenges in island’s the property market, some construction and developments firms have managed to transcend these difficulties and ultimately add the past year as yet another profitable period of operation to their proud history.
LOIS Builders Ltd. is one such firm, having strategically maneuvered its market’s unique challenges to provide a solid foundation for its future growth.
Gold News met with Alexandros Mantis, Business Development Manager of LOIS Builders Ltd. to find out more.
Tell us a little about the history of LOIS Builders.
Founded in 1977 by Sotos LOIS, LOIS Builders Ltd is one of the most established and highly regarded construction companies in Cyprus. The company is characterised by exceptional service, skilled committed personnel and a forward thinking approach.
The company's foundation values of integrity, dedication, team work, shared success and excellence through continuous improvement and development are perfectly aligned with LOIS Builders’ vision: “to add value and quality of life through construction”.
Counting almost four decades of operation, LOIS Builders has obtained the highest standards in quality implementation. Moreover, the company has successfully achieved an on-going impressive growth within a highly competitive environment through punctual completion of a diverse range of projects within the time and budget constraints agreed with its clients from both the Private and the Public Sectors.
LOIS Builders has proudly completed some of the most challenging, prestigious and high-profile buildings in Cyprus. With a portfolio of over 200 projects LOIS Builders is rightfully regarded as one of the most reputable companies in the Cypriot construction industry.
Our returning clients and new referrals are testament to the exceptional service and value delivered. Lois Builders is very highly regarded in the construction industry which reinforces the success of our customer-focused and forward-thinking approach.
Focusing on the implementation of the company's long term strategy in achieving its goals, LOIS Builders has not hesitated to pursue the opportunities arising even outside the geographic ‘boundaries’ of Cyprus, and has recently immerged into the Saudi Arabia's construction industry. Based on the same core values and vision, LOIS Builders has already successfully completed its first project in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) thus establishing its presence in the country and work is well underway with the second project at hand.
What services does the firm offer?
Following a unique customer focused philosophy LOIS Builders, as a “Class A” contractor for both Building and Technical Works, offers the whole range of construction services and solutions tailored each time to the requirements of the customers according to their needs. However they all share the same values of quality, punctuality and cost assurance and it is our mission to fulfil them to the maximum.
The company has embraced new methods to provide a different approach to construction and more options to its clients such as Equity Participation, Design & Build, Build-Operate & Transfer and Cost-Plus deals. In addition, by putting emphasis and investing time and money into advance methods of technology, LOIS Builders is targeting in improving communication, productivity and health & safety standards in the services it provides even further.
The core business of the company is involved with the undertaking of building works contracts (including restorations) both from the public and private sectors. Such projects include medical, financial and educational institutions, tourist and leisure resorts, commercial centres, office buildings and residential projects. Examples of our well-know landmark projects are the Ministry of Finance, the Tower 25 mixed use development designed by the world renowned architect Jean Nouvel, the Cyprus Olympic Committee offices and park, the New Municipal Town Hall of Nicosia, the New Limassol Port Passenger Terminal, the Forum Private School premises and grounds, the New AUDI Terminal showroom and garage, the Hippocrateon Private Hospital, the Mall of Engomi, most of the Private Tertiary Education Institutions in Nicosia and many more.
In addition, LOIS Builders in collaboration with our joint venture partner Phoenix Constructions also undertakes the construction of large scale technical works such as infrastructure and road projects after successful bidding in government tenders. Among the most recent completed projects was the building of a double lane road connecting Paralimni and Derineia, a project worth €12.5 million.
LOIS Builders has also designed and developed a series of luxury residential projects under the brand name ‘Athinaia’ carefully designed cater for the needs of clients seeking high quality housing solutions in prime locations of Nicosia. Completed projects, Athinaia 7 – Pindarou Str. in the city centre and Athinaia 8 – Kaimakli still have a limited availability of units however new mature projects will soon be underway in Platy (Aglantzia) and Lakatamia depending on the market conditions. Our interest and focus in the property development sector is of strategic importance and we follow the events and trends in the property market (and the economy in general) very closely before initiating new projects.
The most recent expansion of the company’s operations is the establishment of LOIS Parking Ltd, a subsidiary company of LOIS Builders which undertakes the design, construction and operation of multi-storey parking facilities in city centre locations. Finikoudes Multipark in Larnaca, the first of three multi-storey car park projects that are underway, has very recently been completed and started its operation on the 1st of June 2014. It is conveniently located next to the Larnaca Municipality offices in the heart of the old town by the Finikoudes beach and provides 200 pleasant, clean, modern and safe car park spaces around the clock for the Larnaca residents and visitors.
How does LOIS distinguish itself from its competitors, and what is the unique strength of the firm?
Our greatest asset is our people and we invest heavily in them; they are the heart of our success. These people create and deliver the value on which our reputation depends. Most of them have grown with the company and so they embrace its principles. Their abilities can best be judged by the calibre of the contracts we win and successfully complete.
Particular attention is paid to the recruitment of talent and professional development of managerial staff. All managers are encouraged to invest time in the improvement of their skills at the full expense of the company. Great emphasis is placed on reward and recognition and managers are openly encouraged to take strategic initiatives and new responsibilities.
We have created the appropriate culture so that every employee works in a pleasant and comfortable environment guided by principles such as:
• integrity and fairness,
• team culture,
• continuous personal development, and
• shared success through long term prosperity.
This is justified by the very low employee turnover that the company enjoys and is also reflected by the fact that LOIS Builders was one of the first companies in the construction industry to receive the prestigious ‘Investors in People’ international award back in 2012.
With this well trained and highly skilled personnel we can achieve high levels of productivity which in turn allow us to offer our clients very competitive pricing in comparison with our competitors in the market.
At the same time through consistent commitment to operational excellence we are dedicated to providing unprecedented services to our clients and to maintaining the highest levels of safety and quality in our work.
Over the years our customer focused philosophy and devotion to provide the ultimate client satisfaction has in return created a very strong and well recognized brand identity for LOIS Builders which makes it stand out from the crowd in a very competitive construction industry.
How has the company grown since it was first established? Indeed, how does it plan to grow in the future?
LOIS Builders, since it was first established back in 1977, has always been prudent and committed to a gradual and healthy growth, ensuring the stability we enjoy today.
From the early days it became apparent that the key to success was by investing in our own people and recognizing talent. The efficiency of our talented and committed personnel has made it possible for LOIS builders to maintain a consistent profitability over the years with competitive pricing through very well calculated and strategically thought out ventures.
Our plans for the future include further expansion into other markets, building on the most recent success of geographic diversification into Saudi Arabia. However, future growth will be critically governed by the company’s commitment to its people, which in turn secures the provision of superior quality and value of services. It is also vital to build on and enhance relationships with existing clients to enable repeat business and referrals.
Tell me about your operations outside of Cyprus. Where else does LOIS Builders operate and what are the firm’s activities in these locations?
LOIS Builders, through its subsidiary company LOIS Builders KSA, was awarded its first contract in the KSA in November 2011 and since then it has set up a full scale operation with Head Offices in the capital city of Riyadh. The scale of our operations in KSA has multiplied rapidly over the years and we are now in a position to undertake new projects anywhere in the country. With a workforce of over 250 people and the core personnel made up of highly skilled, qualified professionals from Cyprus we are building on strong foundations to become an important player in the region over the next 2-3 years with the same corporate values, culture and principles that guided LOIS Builders to success all these years.
Our first project in KSA (pictured at the end) involved the construction of a Military Airbase Facility in the outskirts of the capital Riyadh worth the equivalent of approximately $50m USD for the Aviation of the Saudi Arabia National Guard (SANG).
The development included a total number of 65 buildings together with all corresponding infrastructure, covering up an area of 65,000 m². Each building varied in size, with the smallest one being approximately 350 m² and the largest one 2,000 m². The project was successfully completed and delivered to the client in April 2014 within budget and on time.
For the second project in hand, the Riyadh Airport Housing Project, LOIS Builders KSA was nominated in October 2013 by the Ministry of Housing (MOH) as the subcontractor for all the infrastructure works in an area of over 1,000,000 m². The construction contract is a turnkey agreement with a total project value worth the equivalent of approximately $25m USD and a very tight schedule for completion of 15 months.
The works are within a schedule monitored in collaboration with the Client and the project team is confident that once again the project will be delivered in time and within budget thus providing the best possible services and satisfaction to our client which in return could lead to further project nominations in the future.
Though the financial crisis in Cyprus struck the property, development and construction sectors the hardest, these sectors are gradually beginning to develop once again.
Although 2013 could probably be described as a ‘financial tsunami’ for the Cyprus economy, we certainly saw some significant indications of recovery in the economy for the first half of 2014.
The successful implementation of the recovery programme agreed with the Troika has already led to a few upgrades of the risks rating of the country and its banks. In addition with all the incentives provided by the Cypriot government, Cyprus should soon attract more international investors with direct and indirect positive impact on the construction industry.
In regards to the local demand we are confident that by the end of 2014 the banking sector will be fully operational to support the economy at all levels, including loan granting for property purchases on a very selective basis of course.
Under the current conditions in the construction industry the renovation sub-sector has gained some momentum due to the fact that people are still reluctant to invest money in building new premises. However with the banking sector back in place and with new building planning relaxations and incentives we expect that the property development sector will start gradually picking up around the end of this year or the first quarter of 2015.
A huge boost to the economy with multiple benefits for the construction industry will be given by the potential exploration of the natural gas reserves once the reserves are officially verified. Natural gas exploration requires a massive infrastructure development which will attract a lot of companies and investment from abroad. In addition there will be a great demand for work force which will bring unemployment rates down and create a need for more work places and accommodation.
As an added opportunity for the construction industry one has to also consider the possibility of a solution to the Cyprus problem, however the magnitude of the effects are unprecedented at this point in time.
Taking all of the above into account we believe that the worst is now behind us and although the road to recovery will be long and tough, we are confident that the only way from now on is up. Based on our analysis, we expect the construction industry environment to significantly improve in 2015 and reach satisfactory levels within the next 3 years.
What is LOIS Builders’ goal for 2014? How will you work to achieve that goal?
Our goal for 2014 is to secure a sustainable size in Cyprus and to continue to play an important role as a leader in the cypriot construction industry in order to maintain and potentially attract talent in all aspects of our business.
In the meantime we will continue demonstrating to our business community clientele via our projects that we have been rewarded by their trust and we are reciprocating by providing excellence in the services that we provide at the most competitive prices.
As a group and regarding our related companies, LOIS Parking will continue with the operation of the Finikoudes Multipark aiming at providing the ultimate parking experience for its clients.
At the same time LOIS Parking will implement its expansion strategy with the development of the other 2 multi-storey car park projects in hand (Ermou Multipark in Larnaca and Anexartisias Multipark in Limassol) but new ventures will also be considered.
As for Property Development we believe that the market is still very volatile for any strategic decisions to be made at this point in time. The market trends are closely monitored and analysed and the foreign investment opportunities are evaluated in order to have a clearer view of the Market however we do not anticipate a major breakthrough before the end of 2014.
In regards to the operations of the company in KSA our aim is to expand and steadily grow our business by enhancing our relationship with our existing clients, always maintaining the same operational, marketing and financial principles that have successfully led the company this far.
In order to achieve these goals both ‘hard’ and ‘smart’ work are required so that the high standard of services and quality provided are maintained. At the same time we avoid competing against those that sacrifice quality in return for a seemingly ‘better’ end price to the client. Instead we carefully analyse and understand our costs in order to eliminate any non-value adding expenses thus achieving a very competitive price but always maintaining the high quality of services that LOIS Builders has to offer.