Synergy of brands or a brand of synergy – VINCI Construction Polska as new market player. Nicolas Dépret – Chairman of the Management Board of the companies VINCI Construction Polska, Warbud SA and Eurovia

Synergy of brands or a brand of synergy – VINCI Construction Polska as new market player. Nicolas Dépret – Chairman of the Management Board of the companies VINCI Construction Polska, Warbud SA and Eurovia

Today, Warbud is one of the largest construction companies in Poland. How would you comment on the past year from the perspective of the company and the entire construction market?

The construction market had not yet had time to catch its breath after the turmoil caused by the pandemic, when in 2023 we had to face a series of negative phenomena caused by the war in Ukraine. The uncertain geopolitical situation, soaring prices of raw materials and energy, rising employment costs – all this hovered over the industry like dark clouds. The great unknown was the payment of EU funding under the National Reconstruction Plan (KPO), while the level of contract indexation offered by the largest investors often turned out to be insufficient. In this difficult context, Warbud ended its annual operations with a solid turnover and entered 2024 with confidence. Our order portfolio covers a lot of public investments such as the Court Building in Gdynia, acquired at the end of the year, and the buildings of the District Court and the District Prosecutor’s Office in Legionowo. We also have medical and military contracts. Last year, we completed the construction of the military complex in Powidz, the largest investment for NATO in Poland. A water pool complex implemented as a PPP project will soon be opened in Płock. Now we are building Wiktor Dega Orthopaedic and Rehabilitation Clinical Hospital of Medical University Poznań, the Science, Teaching and Cadaver Exercise Center in Otwock, Skyliner 2 office tower in Warsaw and the Jagiellonian University Collegium Medicum Campus in Kraków-Prokocim. To sum up – I am satisfied with the results we have managed to achieve despite such unfavourable economic conditions.

Nowe Centrum Gliwic, fot. Eurovia

Your portfolio includes industrial facilities, public buildings and also military structures. How did Warbud manage to build such a strong position in so many fields?

That’s a fact. I can say that our array of projects also illustrates in its own way the evolution of the industry itself. Looking back at the completed projects, we could trace back the changes and see how trends evolved and how the infrastructure developed. Warbud’s position on the market is primarily a reflection of our competences and flexibility. We have been following market challenges and investor needs, anticipated them and proposed optimised solutions. Hence, our projects include shopping malls we built two decades ago, amazing cultural facilities such as the Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra in Katowice or the Szczecin Philharmonic Hall, as well as gigantic medical complexes such as the university hospital in Kraków-Prokocim. Mercedes, Gillette, Equinix – these are renowned brands for whom we have completed specialized industrial facilities. Even the high-rise buildings permanently inscribed in the skyline of Warsaw such as Varso Tower or Mennica do not exhaust the list. I think that Warbud’s projects are characterized by a certain combination of momentum, business prudence and engineering reliability. We assess prospective construction projects, their opportunities and threats, as early as at the tender stage. By concluding a contract, we make commitments to the investor and shareholders, we guarantee to them the highest quality of workmanship.

Last year Warbud celebrated its 30th anniversary. What events over the years turned out to be so-called milestones? Which of them do you consider crucial?

We have grown from a small construction startup into a top league player in the country. It’s a great feeling. The history of Warbud is written in approximately 700 unique facilities. Each of them has individual people, knowledge and competences behind it. It is a shared joy and pride, definitely. The energy of enthusiastic and committed employees generates collective intelligence and uniqueness. It was this huge potential that the VINCI Group focused on thirty years ago and it is still the cornerstone of Warbud SA’s strategic development. The Czajka sewage treatment plant built by the company over 10 years ago, which is a gigantic environmental project, one of the biggest and most technologically advanced sewage treatment plants in Europe, would not be included in Warbud’s portfolio without our top technical, business and management competences. Entering the market of medical facilities, and in subsequent years of military facilities, proved to be a hit. When choosing and winning contracts, we demonstrated proper assessment of the market situation, good analysis of a project and correct decisions to use appropriate methods. This mix of agility and foresight, knowledge of processes and experience, as well as drawing conclusions for the future mean that we treat each contract as a milestone. Almost every contract brings something new and opens another chapter in the history of Warbud’s achievements. And we like challenges. That’s the only way a company evolves.

Low- and zero-emission construction is the buzzword which is extremely popular these days. Is Warbud also looking for solutions in this field or is it already offering them to investors?

For us, the concept of sustainable construction and low-emission, systemic solutions is nothing new, let alone a fashionable trend. Over the years the VINCI Group, Warbud and Eurovia’s owner, has been conducting research and implementing programs aimed at minimizing the impact of construction materials and technologies on the environment. The Exegy concrete mix, which has ultra-low carbon footprint, or hybrid structures combining concrete and wood are examples of the solutions used by VINCI. At Eurovia, we have developed the Power Road technology, giving roads the ability to produce energy for heating purposes. This alternative energy source can be used in winter to de-ice road surfaces or airport runways. The Group’s pro-environmental ambitions are developed by the company Warbud Beton which since 2022 has been among the leading producers of concrete mixes holding the Environmental Product Declaration Certificate. The eco-friendly mix from its plant was incorporated into chosen structural elements of prestigious high-rise buildings, including the basement of the Varso Tower, Skyliner or Mennica buildings. Warbud Beton is also the only company on the Polish market holding a certificate in “Thermal Treatment of Concrete by Electric Heating,” which is an effective method of concrete curing in winter conditions, both for environmental and technological reasons. We have extensive experience in the construction of buildings under the strict framework of green BREEAM and LEED certification procedures. These include the Afi V. Office building in Krakow – with the world’s second highest BREEAM certification result in the category of office buildings issued at OUTSTANDING level at the phase of project implementation and commissioning of the building – as well as the Norblin Factory – a facility with the highest result in Poland today and also the world’s second BREEAM Final certificate, also at the OUTSTANDING level.

Skyliner II, fot. Karimpol Polska

On January 1, 2024, Eurovia and Warbud brands became part of VINCI Construction Polska. How did this happen?

Both companies have been part of the VINCI ecosystem for many years. The new management and organizational model under the banner of VINCI Construction Polska reflects our will to consolidate resources and expertise and these grow exponentially with the synergy of competences. When “black swans” suddenly appear out of nowhere on the horizon of socio-economic life, just like the pandemic in recent years, then the war in Ukraine and finally the outbreak of war in the Middle East, the necessity to have our own production capacities, resistance to change and development potential is becoming a key issue. Our clients’ expectations have also been evolving. An absolutely comprehensive approach is required from a general contractor – support in the design, financing and implementation stages. When we have independent potential and a wide range of expertise, we can offer measurable benefits to our clients. Warbud and Eurovia are therefore jointly able to respond to market demand – whether in the public or private projects sectors. This does not change the fact that Warbud remains faithful to the construction of buildings and Eurovia to road projects. Eurovia Aggregates will continue to supply its products to the market and Warbud Beton will be developing recipes for concrete mixes. Each company continues to do what they do best. However, there is still a lot of space for collaboration. 2500 employees of both companies constitute the strength of VINCI Construction Polska.

What changes does that mean for Warbud? Does this open up new perspectives for you?
The new structure is an impulse to create measurable business and technological synergies. Cooperation within the holding will facilitate the identification of projects, increase our competitive advantage and allow us to offer our clients more comprehensive solutions. We have greater operational resources and a support services platform shared within VINCI Construction Polska. Our goal is vertical integration of business processes and services, and “Build Better Together” – the strategic motto of VINCI Construction – sets the direction for development. Warbud and Eurovia know each other well. We have completed over a dozen projects together such as the training site at the Military Complex in Sochaczew, Sections of S19 Expressway from Rzeszów to Świlcza, A2 Motorway or S7 Expressway near Elbląg. More projects are still to come.

Do you think that 2024 will be a more successful year for the construction industry than previous years?
Poland needs a lot of investment, there are many areas to be developed. There are long-term programs, often very crucial for large agglomerations, but also for smaller towns, on a local scale. The year 2024 has a chance to become a turning point. The EU funding under the National Reconstruction Plan (KPO) has been approved, which will translate into economic recovery and new investments. The economy will gain momentum and long-delayed tenders will start. I have no doubt that we will again face enormous challenges – infrastructural, environmental and in the field of energy. In the long run, the context for general contractors seems promising. However, before a breakthrough occurs, the industry must be patient and survive another difficult year.

Rondo Turbinowe DK-52_fot. Sebastian Harężlak, Gmina Porąbka

The world needs wise and committed leaders. What does responsible leadership mean to you?

The pace of change today certainly requires insight, courage and management skills from leaders of large organizations. I also think that you need caution in approaching changes when it is necessary to introduce them. At VINCI, we believe in creativity and collective intelligence. A wise and responsible leadership style creates conditions conducive to expressing ideas and doubts and gives people the right to experiment and make mistakes. After all, the human capacity to achieve progress is unlimited. Reality forces changes in plans and makes us question previously accepted assumptions. You need to think in the long perspective, take care of planning and transfer of know-how, support sustainable development and limit the negative effects of the company’s activities on the natural environment. Engineering must support this vision. I strongly believe in this.

Nicolas Dépret – Chairman of the Management Board of the companies VINCI Construction Polska, Warbud SA and Eurovia. Since 1997 he has been continuously associated with the VINCI Group, one of the key players in the concessions and construction industry in the world. He graduated from Ecole Spéciale des Travaux Publics, du Bâtiment et de l’Industrie in Paris. He started his professional career in Germany. Since 2000, he has been supporting the development of Eurovia’s operations in Poland. In the period 2014-2017 he was responsible for the operation of Eurovia branches in Romania, Croatia and the Baltic States.

Last Updated on March 21, 2024 by Anastazja Lach