Last edited 19 Jun 2018

Constructionline

Constructionline was launched by the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions (DETR) in 1998 to reduce the administrative burden of the pre-qualification process. It was set up as a Public-Private Partnership (PPP), owned by the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills (BIS) but operated by Capita Plc under a concession agreement.

Pre-qualification involves assessing the level of experience, capacity and financial standing of potential suppliers, enabling clients to produce a short list of suppliers that are likely to be most appropriate for their particular project. This saves time for potential tenderers who would not have a realistic chance of winning the contract and saves time for the client meaning they do not have to process inappropriate tenders.

Constructionline was created to provide a single site for the collection of standard pre-qualification data by suppliers. This reduces duplication of effort, meaning that suppliers do not have to continually prepare the same information for different clients in slightly different ways. Instead, supplier data is collected and validated annually, and entered onto a register of pre-qualified suppliers for construction contracts. Suppliers pay an annual fee for this service.

In 2009, Sir Michael Latham said "Constructionline has continued to play a vital role in improving and simplifying the PQQ (pre-qualification questionnaire) process… to provide a critical business improvement tool." In 2014, Constructionline included more than 22,000 suppliers and 8,000 buyers.

However, on 15 July 2014, at the end of the latest concession agreement, BIS announced it intended to sell Constructionline. Ref BIS, Government sale to help Constructionline exploit growing markets. 15 July 2014.

BIS suggested that, ‘Commercial ownership will allow Constructionline to grow and achieve its full potential, including offering new additional services for the benefit of businesses.’

A BIS spokesperson said; "Constructionline offers valuable services to the construction industry, particularly small and medium sized businesses. It has grown significantly under government ownership, and now is the time to enable it to expand further to meet the needs of a changing industry. Gaining access to private capital will enable Constructionline to become even more competitive and branch out into new markets. Bids will be welcomed from buyers who plan to grow the services provided by Constructionline."

Constructionline was subsequently purchased from the government by Capita in 2015 for £35 million. But in January 2018, following the liquidation of Carillion and a profit warning from Capita, Constructionline was again put up for sale.

Capita Chief Executive Officer Jonathan Lewis said; “An immediate priority is to strengthen the balance sheet through a combination of cost savings, non-core disposals and new equity. We have identified a small number of quality businesses that do not fit with our core skills for which there will be better owners and a process to maximise value will commence shortly.”

In June 2018, private equity investor Warburg Pincus purchased Constructionline for £160m.

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