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Hoskins’ Scottish National Gallery client on alert as Interserve enters administration

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The client behind Hoskins Architects’ £22 million redevelopment of the Scottish National Gallery is ‘closely monitoring’ the situation at the project’s main contractor, Interserve, which has been rescued by its lenders

National Galleries of Scotland insisted it did not expect any major problems on the long-awaited Edinburgh scheme as a result of the administration and subsequent buyout of the Berkshire-based construction and outsourced-services giant late last week.

Glasgow-based Hoskins was appointed to the Scottish National Gallery overhaul in 2014, when the project was valued at £9 million and expected to complete in 2018. After a period of redesign, work finally started on site at the end of last year and is now due to complete in 2021. 

Interserve’s shares were suspended last week after dropping sharply on the news that administrator EY would be taking over. However, the firm was almost immediately sold to a new company formed of its lenders.

A spokesperson for National Galleries of Scotland said today: ‘The redevelopment of the Scottish National Gallery is being carried out by Interserve Construction, part of the wider Interserve PLC, which went into a pre-packaged administration arrangement on Friday 15 March.

‘Plans were already in place to allow key parts of the company to continue operating as normal, including the construction company that is working on the Scottish National Gallery development project. We do not anticipate that there will be any significant disruption to work on our project as a result of all this, but we will continue to monitor the situation very closely.’

The spokesperson said work was progressing well to transform the Scottish National Gallery into a space that would showcase Scotland’s art in a bright and airy space.

‘As previously stated, the plan is that the public will be able to use the new accessible path in East Princes Street Gardens by the spring,’ they said. ‘We are very much aware that the gardens are a key area of interest for Edinburgh residents and visitors, and thank everyone for their patience. The whole project is due to be complete, as previously announced, in early 2021.’

It emerged in early 2017 that a start on site had been delayed amid value engineering to keep the project within a revised £16.8 million budget.

Despite scaling-back the scheme, scrapping a plan to extend the gallery by 5m into East Princes Street Gardens and reconfiguring display space within the gallery, extra design and project costs meant the revised price was £22 million. 

Interserve said in a statement: ‘All companies in the group other than the parent company will remain solvent, providing continuity of service for customers and suppliers.’

Interserve Group chief executive Debbie White said: ‘With a stronger financial platform in place, Interserve will be able to concentrate on delivering value for our customers. The group’s transformation programme will continue, focused on improving our value propositions for customers, standardising our operational delivery, making Interserve simpler and more efficient through our Fit for Growth initiatives, and embedding a culture of ownership and openness throughout the group.

‘Interserve is fundamentally a strong business and with a competitive financial platform in place we see significant opportunities ahead as a best-in-class partner to the public and private sector.’

Hoskins Architects declined to comment.

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