We talk with Juan Guaita, Business and Development Manager at Abessis about the construction of commercial premises.
Abessis is a construction and construction management company based in Valencia, Spain. Abessis are experts in construction in the retail sector with the construction of commercial premises for international firms such as Hollister & Co, Springfield, Cortefiel, Wolala, Women Secret, Guess, Levi’s or Kiko, among other brands. We talk with Juan Guaita, Business and Development Manager at Abessis about his experience in the construction of different shop concepts and the challenges in projects for major brands.
Construction services and work methodology
- What does the construction global management offered by Abessis consist of?
Construction global management covers the entire construction cycle. We carry out everything from the demolition phase, electrical installations, air conditioning, plumbing, sanitation and fire protection, as well as commissioning. In addition, the comprehensive management also includes the whole range of architectural, construction and furniture installation tasks, right up to the final fitting out of the premises on the opening day itself. Finally, the administrative team is in charge of carrying out all the procedures related to the activity carried out, from the opening of files to the final certificates.
We have a team made up of Technical Architects and Building Engineers who carry out the technical tasks and project management, organise the project management and are in constant communication with the client.
We also have a Mechanical Engineer, who specifically supervises the execution of the installations during the work, but at the same time complements the Project Manager, and is in charge of proposing improvements that can reduce the costs of the installations or their subsequent maintenance.
“We work with a Mechanical Engineer, who supervises specifically but at the same time complementary to the Project Manager and is in charge of proposing improvements that can reduce costs in the installations or in their maintenance”.
- How do you manage to offer tight budgets without sacrificing quality and attention to detail?
At Abessis, we rely on a network of trusted suppliers in very different geographical locations. We try to gradually expand this network in order to reach as many cities as possible without incurring extra travel costs or unnecessary expenses. In this way we can always present the most competitive offers possible to the client.
On the construction site, suppliers are directly supervised by the Abessis site manager, who remains on site from the first day to the last. The work of the site foreman is essential so that the Project Manager, who is in charge of the project, can constantly monitor the execution of the project.
Furthermore, in line with the company’s quality system, suppliers are evaluated so that each time a project is completed, they are graded with a view to positioning them for subsequent projects. In this way, we align ourselves with the values of professionalism and quality that define us in order to meet our clients’ expectations.
- What are the main needs of the companies you work with, particularly in the retail sector, and how do you address them at Abessis?
In addition to the quality of the finishing touches, in the retail sector it is essential to carry out the work quickly. In this sector there are many changes that occur from one day to the next and we must be prepared to react to any modification or unforeseen event. All of this without affecting the quality of the work, the cost of the work or the delivery times that would affect the opening, which absolutely must not and can never happen.
In the case of commercial premises, every day that delivery can be brought forward is one more day of sales that the client gains. As we said before, the opening dates, established well in advance and on which many other departments depend, are immovable.
Experience tells us that fluid communication between our technicians and brand managers is part of the key to success. In fact, our flexibility, adaptability and the fact that we provide other solutions is what our customers value the most in quality surveys.
“Smooth communication between our technicians and brand managers is part of the key to success. Our flexibility, adaptability and the fact that we provide other solutions is what our customers value the most in quality surveys.”
Experience in the construction and refurbishment of shops
- There are different types of commercial premises: from small pop up stores to large department stores. What differentiates each of the interventions?
We have executed works for different types of businesses in the retail sector, such as the construction of the Hoss Intropia Corners. Also premises in shopping streets for Springfield in the Valencia or the refurbishment of several Hollister shops in shopping centres in Spain.
In addition to the integral management of the work, we also carry out premises with the installation of furniture provided by the client and other spaces where our intervention is complete and we also take on the manufacturing. Thanks to the synergies with Grup Idea, we have worked on the implementation, the architectural and engineering project and the comprehensive site management of the Etam stores in Barcelona, Seville, Valencia, San Sebastián and Castellón, among others, as well as the implementation and construction of the Kiko Milano stores.
In this sense, flexibility is important as we adapt to the requirements of each client. We use our own materials as well as those supplied by the firm, we coordinate with their own suppliers and we adapt to any working conditions, such as, for example, the time restrictions of shopping centres.
- You have been in charge of the construction of several premises with surfaces between 700 and 1000 m2 PEPCO, a job that you have executed in a period of only four weeks. What challenges are posed by the construction of large premises such as PEPCO’s?
Of course, the request to meet the deadlines was an unquestionable necessity for the client, so we had to readapt our resources to meet this requirement. The open-plan nature of the shop with a simpler type of finish, together with the coordination of several teams working simultaneously in different areas of the premises, allowed us to achieve this ambitious objective.
The large areas that initially worried us due to the limited time required for execution became an advantage. Being able to overlap many trades, something impossible in smaller spaces, has helped us to work in a more agile way. Moreover, with such tight deadlines, there is no room for error. Optimisation when it comes to planning, ordering materials and staying ahead of schedule to avoid setbacks has been essential in order to meet deadlines.
“Particularly in retail, optimising the planning, ordering materials and staying ahead of schedule to avoid setbacks was essential to meet the deadlines”.
- What tools do you use in the site management process with clients? What use do they have and what advantages do they offer?
A little less than a year ago, at Abessis we incorporated Holobuilder software into our activity, a computer tool that allows us to monitor the work remotely from any device and location without having to travel. Internally, we can supervise and know the evolution of the project without leaving the office, which means significant savings in time and costs.
More and more firms have Holobuilder licences that they share with the different parties involved. In fact, it is common for the client to allow access to the builder’s Project Manager to his CRM, as an “own” worker on the project. Within this tool, information is shared with all those involved, such as other suppliers or the project management. This is a good way to ensure coordination between all teams. The system itself allows for the storage of files, such as project plans, and whenever there is an update, a notification is sent to all parties.
These CRMs often have an internal chat, notification board or alert system, which facilitates quick responses.
“Internally, with the Holobuilder tool we can monitor and know the evolution of the project without leaving the office, which is a significant time and cost saver.”
The evolution of construction in the retail sector, digitisation and sustainability
- The ways in which consumers interact with brands and shops has changed. Experience retail involves changes in the design of retail premises. How does this new trend influence Abessis’ work?
A clear example of the influence of experience retail, as you say, is that home automation is increasingly present in projects. There are testers with warning systems and even the integration of air conditioning and lighting systems controlled by a BMS (Building Management System) that optimise energy efficiency.
Our technicians and installers need to be up to date with these technologies, which is why it is always necessary to have people who are experts in the field. The work of the engineer as the construction company’s own staff is no longer just an internal requirement to control all areas of a project. Their role is fundamental in accompanying firms in the correct implementation of their projects with these new technologies.
Shopping centres, such as the recently renovated CC La Maquinista in Barcelona, are also changing the paradigm by allocating more space for strolling, enjoying the local gastronomy and not only for shopping. At Abessis we are witnesses to all these changes in trends, our clients ask us for them and we follow the evolution of the sector very closely.
- Sustainability is also a crucial demand in society, an aspect that companies are increasingly taking into account. Where does Abessis stand in this respect?
On construction sites, one of the points on which we place a lot of emphasis is the reduction of travel. We do this both through the contracting of assessed local companies and through the implementation of tools such as Holobuilder, which allow us to reduce the frequency of face-to-face visits that we have been making until now.
On the other hand, we have set ourselves the objective of obtaining ISO 14001 environmental management systems certification in the not too distant future. For now we already have ISO 9001 certification for our quality system, but we are very aware of the environmental impact of the activity we carry out and we are determined to reduce it as much as possible.