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GRITIT rebrands as OUTCO – Interview with MD Andy Barry

OUTCO is the new name for the business formerly known as GRITIT, but is this more than just a rebranding? 

Absolutely – it’s more than a name change. We needed to reflect that today we are a very different business. While GRITIT started in 2004 focused on winter gritting and snow clearance, the company expanded into a nationwide provider of a comprehensive suite of outdoor services – both organically and through acquisitions and significant inward investment. 

We evolved from an industry-leading winter services provider, into a comprehensive outdoor services provider. We offer the UK’s first end-to-end estate maintenance and compliance solution powered by smart technology. This is a unique offering, and we needed a brand that reflected this. The OUTCO name, and the positioning as ‘Outdoor Estate Compliance Experts’ reflects this more comprehensive offering. 

The most significant change seems to be that you’re now offering civil engineering services too – this seems a major step change from the winter and landscaping businesses. 

One of most significant and transformational developments in the company’s recent history was the purchase of NMC Group – a surfacing, engineering and external environment maintenance business. The acquisition at the end of 2020 effectively doubled the size of the company overnight, creating a £55 million provider of external infrastructure compliance services capable of providing our clients with a year-round service. We now service 7500 sites around the UK and work with some of the country’s leading companies. To take two sectors, that includes retailers like Tesco, Morrisons, Sainsburys, IKEA and ASDA or property management companies such as CBRE, Savilles, British Land and JLL.  

And while there are differences in the nature of the services, there are also numerous points where these services overlap and considerable cross sale opportunities. We can expand into other segments such as drainage, specialist surface coating and colouring, and even electric vehicle charge points. Most importantly, we had a fantastic cultural fit with NMC – especially in terms of commitment to innovation and quality. 

What sort of customers are after an end-to-end service?

For many companies, outdoor services are fulfilled by a patchwork of small contracts and smaller contractors that consume a disproportionate amount of time to procure and manage. We all know the 80/20 rule about working smarter in business that states that 80% of the gains can come from 20% of the effort. With outsourcing, this rump of small yet time consuming contracts is an oppressive 20/80 burden. By offering a bundled service, we take that whole management challenge away from busy FMs, while offering the same level of quality, transparency across the piece.  

You position OUTCO as compliance experts – can you explain this further? 

Regulatory pressures are increasing for the outdoor estate with greater scrutiny from regulators. Organisations need to be able to rely on the safe and effective operation of outdoor environments to ensure compliant and commercially efficient running of their critical activities.

These outdoor environments, infrastructure and assets are under a constant assault from the weather, nature and general wear and tear. It’s easy for them to turn very quickly from safe and working assets to potential liabilities. At OUTCO we understand that organisations need to be able to get on with their core activities efficiently and without interruption while maintaining the highest standards of safety. With so many different moving parts and outside influences, this can be a complex task. We provide end-to-end, bundled services that are optimised through smart technology for better performance and transparency, we take on the breadth of this complexity. This ensures that our clients benefit from a joined-up and synergistic approach that delivers superior results, greater commercial efficiency but above all help their estates stay fully compliant and safe year-round. 

How do you see technology impacting the outdoor FM and maintenance space? 

Virtually every sector is being transformed by technology and our industry is no different. OUTCO’s patented technology provides real time visibility on service delivery, offering data driven assurance that issues are being resolved, with critical detailed evidence to demonstrate compliance, whilst at the same time, generating internal operational efficiency gains.

Over the past decade in winter gritting, we were able to use weather data to better target services and mobile technology to precisely track and record service delivery to provide greater transparency. That progressive outlook can be applied to other areas. For example, mobile technology allows clients to connect with our teams more effectively. We have a client-facing app, which gives our clients the chance to submit photos or report any issues or damage to their sites, which we are then able to quote for to make safe the works within no more than 72 hours. There are so many opportunities to use technology to continuously improve quality, accountability and client relationships. Many areas of outdoor FM are – dare I say it – rather traditional and behind the curve in terms of technology adoption. At OUTCO, we’ve never been afraid to shake things up. 

For further information visit www.outco.co.uk  

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