Alan Burns

Alan Burns, formerly depute director, replaces Dr Graham Paterson, who has retired from the business along with Sharon McGrath, who was head of corporate services. Burns, who began his career 30 years ago as an apprentice blacksmith in a precursor to City Building, was appointed by the organisation’s board following an open selection process.

City Building, which has more than 2,000 employees, has diversified in recent years and now offers a wider range of services including design & build, house-building, manufacturing, micro-renewables including district heating, solar thermal and PV installations.

As part of his new role, Burns has been reviewing the firm’s operations in home renewables, with a view to becoming a leading player in the sector. He said: “The business has been left in a strong position by Graham and Sharon, so it is my job to ensure there is stability and continued employment for our workforce. With COP26 taking place in Glasgow in November we are ramping up considerably our renewables workstream.

“We recently seconded an employee from construction into renewables and design to help us consider any new skills our trades require to take advantage of renewables opportunities. We have also added a renewables element to our training college both in its construction and the skills we will deliver to our workforce.

“Exciting work is already under way in Glasgow to retrofit existing homes with green technologies, such as solar panels and ground source heating, that will reduce fuel poverty and carbon emissions. It is a just transition, which ties directly into our unique social ethos.

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“Increasing adoption of renewable technologies won’t just create a better environment, they will also create jobs and better communities.  So, there’s lots of potential for an organisation like ours.”

City Building consists of two complementary businesses: City Building (Glasgow) and City Building (Contracts). City Building (Glasgow), a 50/50 JV between Glasgow City Council and Wheatley Group, provides repairs, maintenance and investment work to the Wheatley Group, as well as carrying out about £30m of repairs annually for Glasgow City Council. City Building (Contracts), which is wholly owned by Glasgow City Council, undertakes work for the local authority and delivers a number of commercial contracts, providing construction, repair and maintenance and manufacturing services.

Almost a year after the first lockdown, when all construction ceased, the Burns said that across the two entities City Building has a healthy order book of more than £200m in contracts for the next financial year as the industry recovers.

As a result, it will be retaining all of its fourth-year apprentices who are due to qualify in the coming months, and the business has offered 100 temporary staff permanent employment in anticipation of the increased workload.   

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