Freedom From the Flame

on 01 August, 2012

I am going to open this blog by quoting from a note sent round to catering teams from the London Olympics Organising Committee (Locog).

“Due to sponsorship obligations with McDonald's, Locog have instructed the catering team they are no longer allowed to serve chips on their own anywhere within the Olympic park.

"The only loophole to this is if it is served with fish.”

Now, aside from the fact this is the second time the humble French fry has caused a furore (think post 9/11 Freedom Fries) what can chipped potatoes have anything to do with the construction industry? The answer is simple – relax the rules on Olympic sponsorship to stimulate economic growth.

I appreciate that official sponsors have helped raise £700m  of much-needed funding, which helped to keep costs down for UK taxpayers. And, I understand that in return for this outlay, sponsors expect a fair amount of exclusivity, as is their right.

Our industry employs thousands of workers and it’s a fact that construction boosts the economy. According to the UK Contractors Group, every £1 invested in construction generates £2.84 of GDP. With the UK officially in recession and companies operating in a tough environment, I know that many firms would appreciate the opportunity to promote the work they have done on Olympic-related projects.

Some of the work carried out is truly innovative and impressive, and it’s understandable that companies want to shout about it, not only to help them win much-needed new business, but also because they are genuinely proud to have been part of such a world-class event.

At a recent Construction Products Association meeting, the industry discussed the need to be able to talk about project wins and contract work, as finished constructions are often a physical example of the quality of the contractor’s work and what better exemplar can be given?

The Olympics has brought in work, there’s no doubt about it, but it is causing us problems, too.

Many construction projects are being delayed until the end of the Games, which has a negative impact on our businesses.

We’re also concerned about the effect that the Olympic Route Network (a network of roads which will be closed to the public during the Games) will have on deliveries and orders, too.

With the latest ONS construction figures highlighting that UK construction output fell 6% in May compared to last year, how about the organisers of the British Olympics let British companies get some exposure and possibly attract export opportunities, too?

Dave Young is trading director at Drain Center.

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