Participating in UK Trade & Investment Trade Missions has been key to the overseas success of London-based AndArchitects, helping the practice to secure new business in Brazil
The practice was set up by Manuel Nogueira in 1998 after he had been commissioned to develop The Valley ground for Charlton Athletic FC. It has since built up a diverse portfolio which includes projects in the leisure, retail, residential, commercial, and sport sectors.
For the London Olympic and Paralympic Games, AndArchitects was commissioned to work on a range of temporary structures on both client and contractor side, including the BP Showcase Pavilion and BP Walk in the Park, the Coca-Cola Pavilion, the BMW Pavilion, the EDF Pavilion and the basketball training facility.
“Our clients include Premiership football clubs, rugby clubs, international banks, hotel groups, local authorities, government bodies and private individuals,” says Manuel. “This diversity is our strength, each project bringing to light new ideas which influence other schemes. We were delighted to be involved in several projects at the London Games, the prestige of which has raised our profile and resulted in several more business opportunities.”
Over the years, AndArchitects has worked with UKTI to expand its overseas client base, with a particular focus on Brazil. In 2008, the practice joined a trade mission to Rio and São Paulo, where it was given access to potential projects for the 2014 FIFA World Cup™. Manuel is fluent in Portuguese, and this together with the practice’s experience in sports stadia and the London Olympics in particular, put it in a good position to win new business.
The trade mission gave AndArchitects a spot on the UKTI stand at Soccerex, the annual networking event for businesses involved in the football industry. This opened up a world of new contacts and allowed the company to get to know the local market.
“Without UKTI’s support we simply wouldn’t have gone to Brazil or exhibited at Soccerex,” says Manuel. “The cost of attending was subsidised to the extent that it was actually cheaper for us to exhibit on the UKTI stand than to buy a ticket and attend as a delegate. What’s more, standing there under the UKTI banner maximised our exposure and made sure that we attracted attention, making our investment much more worthwhile. Even though Soccerex is specifically geared around football, it gave us an amazing opportunity to look at work going on in Brazil and understand local opportunities and changes in the procurement process for major contracts.”
AndArchitects has returned to Brazil several times since then, building relationships with existing contacts and connecting with new potential partners and clients. In 2010 the company met a local partner and the two went on to partner on a project in Maranhão, in Northern Brazil. This resort comprises a base camp for use in the 2014 World Cup, a hotel, golf course, 70 villas and 300 apartments. AndArchitects has since completed a feasibility study and outline design for the development.
A second partnership that arose out the company attending Soccerex with UKTI has resulted in a contract to design the Handball Arena for the 2016 Rio Olympic and Paralympic Games. AndArchitects’ experience with temporary structures for the 2012 Games in London helped local firm, Lopes Santos Ferreira Gomes, to secure the prestigious contract.
“The Rio Handball Arena project goes a step further than the work we did at London 2012, in that its legacy will be a specific alternative project – it will be dismantled and the components used to build four local schools,” says Manuel. “We are working with the specialist sub-contractors to create a design that builds in this future use from the outset. As a small company of just ten people, having UKTI’s backing has been a key part in us being positioned to win this contract and others like it. It gives us the credibility that enables us to make contact with potential clients and partners, and ensures that we are perceived as specialists in our field.
There’s no quick fix for breaking into a new market. There’s no substitute for getting out there and talking to people. You need to build relationships and show your commitment with frequent visits. UKTI has allowed us to do this in an affordable and effective way.”