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Rising to the challenge of COVID-19

In March 2020, due to the ongoing impact of COVID-19, we took the difficult decision to suspend our core operations in line with government guidelines. As restrictions have lifted over the last three months and our new build housing and solar framework projects reopened, we are pleased to share that HBS are back in business. Thanks to the commitment and resilience of our core teams, we’re now fully operational and ready to help our clients deliver projects safely and efficiently.

In this update we’ll outline HBS’s adapted business operations during the pandemic. We’ll share the steps we’ve taken to prioritise the health, safety and wellbeing of our employees and customers, and how we’ve collaborated as a group to safely maintain service excellence across all projects and contracts.

Responding to the onset of coronavirus

As the COVID-19 crisis unfolded, HBS was forced to make critical decisions to ensure its future, with over 150 of our live sites across the UK closing, critical projects staying open and supply chains experiencing difficulties.

Following the government’s lockdown announcement on 23rd March, our focus was to identify and understand the current and emerging risks of COVID-19 on the business. We assessed existing processes, site operating procedures and explored new ways of working to ensure staff and essential operations were safeguarded without comprising health and wellbeing.

Our approach:

  • Implementing new site operating procedures
    • We updated and issued new HBSGS RAMS to meet COVID-19 enhanced safe working practices in line with client and CLC guidelines for all projects and contracts.
  • Safe delivery of critical projects during lockdown
    • We made decisive operational changes to working practices to allow our highly skilled people to continue working on critical projects in the housing and water utilities sectors
  • Making HBS head office COVID secure
    • Following a comprehensive COVID-19 office risk assessment that was independently audited, we made adaptations and implemented new measures to ensure a safe and protected workplace in line with guidelines.
  • Providing emergency aftercare response during lockdown
    • We introduced new working practices and precautionary measures to enable the Aftercare team to safely deliver emergency response to customer homes while adhering to social distancing and safety guidelines.
  • Adopting remote working for our employees
    • We invested in the upgrade of our IT infrastructure and purchased new hardware to ensure employees can work remotely from home as safe and efficiently as possible.
  • Using the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme
    • For projects temporarily paused or unable to run at full capacity due to COVID-19, HBS utilised the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. This is being reviewed on a regular basis.

Collaboration is critical to success

Throughout lockdown and as restrictions eased, the dedication and effort shown by our staff, site operatives and supply chain partners has been exemplary. Together they’ve played a crucial role in overcoming material shortages, safely maintaining essential operations and ensuring a smooth transition for the reopening of sites.

With the health, safety and wellbeing our main priority, the group continues to strictly adhere to government guidelines and site operating procedures as production moves towards normal levels. We reinforce this through regular weekly briefings and site-based toolbox talks.

Here are examples of how HBS collaborated with customers and suppliers to overcome challenges and deliver specialist M&E and solar PV services during and after lockdown.


Lovell Partnerships Larkhill, MOD Housing

lovell larkhill sfa army basing programme mod housing new build electrical services by hbs electrical contractors

Although Lovell took the decision to temporarily suspend operations. They were quick to reorganise and allow critical works to continue. To protect our workforce and maintain production we adapted working practices within COVID-19 guidelines. Through a joint effort, we safely managed the efficient completion of electrical installations for more than 70 MOD housing plots built under the Army Basing Programme for service personnel and their families.
Read more about this project.


Wates Residential Daedalus Village, Homes England Project

wates residential housing daedalus village building services by mechanical and electrical contractor hbs group southern

Wates Residential took quick and effective action to implement measures in response to COVID-19 and enable safe working during lockdown to a controlled level of production. With workforce reduced to 40% and single trades allowed per plot, our mechanical and electrical installation teams adapted to new ways of working to safely progress critical works for private and affordable plots to programme.
Read more about this project.


AHH Group Chapters Village, Retirement Living

ahh group chapters retirement living salisbury platinum-skies mechanical electrical services by hbs group southern

AHH Group demonstrated strong and consistent communication during and after lockdown to execute and reinforce enhanced safe working practices on site. This allowed HBS’ Mechanical and Electrical divisions to safely complete 1st and 2nd fix works to the retirement living development in line with revised production levels and quality standards.
Read more about this project.


Berkeley Homes Royal Clarence Marina Regeneration Phase NM7

berkeley homes royal clarence marina regeneration delivering affordable housing for guinness partnership plumbing services by hbs mechanical

Berkeley Homes (Southern) adapted site operating procedures and refined the programme allowing critical works at Phase NM7 Bridge House to continue during lockdown. After overcoming material shortages, HBS Mechanical successfully completed plumbing works, handing over of 55 shared ownership units in line with safety protocols and delivery targets.
Read more about this project.


Grafham Water Treatment Works, Anglian Water Solar Programme

solar array at grafham water treatment works anglian water solar programme delivered by hbs new energies

Through collaboration with Anglian Water and sub-contractors we quickly evaluated the situation and implemented mitigation measures to ensure the project was COVID secure during lockdown. Initially with reduced labour focusing on critical activities, we took a measured approach to increasing production to normal levels within safety guidelines. The 11.6 MW solar farm at Grafham Water is fast approaching completion and will become one of the largest solar arrays in the UK Water Industry.
Read more about this project.

New ways of working

During these unprecedented times, we have collectively adapted to new ways of working whilst ensuring we continue to meet the needs of our client base. Our teams have demonstrated a proactive, can-do attitude and embraced remote working. They have adopted new technology to keep in touch with colleagues and stakeholders and implemented new processes to improve efficiency and communication.

With employees currently split between our head office and working remotely from home, we have the resource and capabilities in place to provide a safe and first-class service for our customers as we move forward. Over the next two months we will be taking a phased and measured approach to fully reopen our head office for all HBS staff.

Planning for our future

Kevin Bull, Managing Director, HBS Group Southern commented:

“We could have never prepared for the challenges we’ve faced as a result of the coronavirus. But I am proud of the fantastic work ethic shown by everyone at HBS. They have demonstrated resilience under pressure when we needed it most, proving that we are adaptable and capable of change.

Whilst we have been commercially impacted by COVID-19, we are building a strong pipeline of new build M&E and solar PV contracts from repeat clients and new customers to aid our recovery.

As we navigate through this crisis, we will continue to review the situation closely and take the necessary steps to protect our workforce and support our customers and supply chain partners. Our teams remain focused on safely meeting client needs to the highest standards, helping to deliver much needed housing and renewable energy schemes.

Looking forward, I am confident that the group will emerge more resilient to deal with whatever the future holds. We will be committed to keeping the construction sector working as we help to rebuild and grow the UK economy.”


Your trusted mechanical, electrical and renewable energy specialists

HBS Group Southern is an award-winning mechanical, electrical and renewable energy contractor. For over 70 years the company has built a reputation for consistently delivering reliable, industry leading results in the new build housing, commercial and public sectors. Visit our case studies to see some of the projects we’ve completed.

If you are looking for a trusted mechanical and electrical contractor to support your residential housing development or a solar PV specialist to develop your renewable energy scheme, we can provide a quality assured, fully integrated package. Submit your enquiry online or email our expert team to discuss how we can make a positive difference to your next project during these challenging times.


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