Fit-out focus: Portview
Portview is a multi-award winning universal fit-out specialist, project managing interior fit-out and refurbishment projects for some of the world’s most prestigious brands. The company has been in operation for more than 40 years and within this time has built up an excellent reputation within the industry.
Keen to get a further insight into the company, Premier Retail recently caught up with Managing Director, Simon Campbell. Simon gave us the lowdown on Portview’s history and discussed the interesting project’s the company has been involved with.
Hi Simon, please can you tell us a little about Portview’s history.
“Portview’s evolution has been quite remarkable. The company started in Belfast in 1975 as a ‘one man and his van’ construction company, but grew to be part of a successful group of companies.
“After two decades, the commercial landscape in Northern Ireland was rapidly expanding, so Portview decided to take a leap of faith and specialise in the fit-out industry, branching off from the original group.
“Since then, Portview has built up a strong reputation for providing clients with a highly personalised service that transforms the most ambitious of design concepts into a reality. In short, the client experience is at the heart of everything we do, and we can do everything.”
So, what would you say is Portview’s primary focus?
“We have evolved from a local construction company into an internationally recognised fit-out specialist that has completed works in London, New York, Karachi, and Paris. To this day, 84% of our work is repeat business with clients continuing to seek our services to help turn their design aspirations into a reality.
“Whilst we’re best known for clients in the luxury retail sector such as Kate Spade, Selfridges, Harvey Nichols, and Oscar de la Renta, our ever-expanding portfolio now consists of numerous projects in the stadia, corporate, and hospitality sectors too.”
What are your most significant projects?
“In 2010 we were appointed to complete a multimillion pound project for one of the UK’s largest football stadiums. This was a significant milestone not only because it enabled us to showcase our talents outside of the luxury retail sector, but it gave the entire team a huge confidence boost during a time when the construction industry was facing a lot of uncertainty.
“The scope of work involved the redevelopment of the stadium’s hospitality suites using a visual vocabulary that eloquently referenced the football club’s past and current successes. The scheme covered four areas – a buffet dining restaurant, a stylish bar, a high-quality lounge and an exclusive à la carte restaurant, all demanding precision and exact tolerances. As an example, vertical surfaces had to be suitable for a crowded stadium environment with walls and sliding partitions in some areas tested for 2KN of crowd loading.
“Despite the amount of work involved, the project was completed within 11 weeks and received huge amounts of praise from the client and VIP ticket holders. Since then, we’ve won more contracts in the stadia sector including the fit-out of the London Stadium, the new home of West Ham United FC.”
What projects have you been working on over the past 12 months?
“Last year we were mostly occupied with projects in the retail sector. This included the redevelopment of the menswear and Beauty Lounge departments for Harvey Nichols’ flagship store in Knightsbridge, the fit-out of the new Kate Spade boutique in Regent Street, and The Whisky Shop’s first store in Paris.
“Beyond retail, we also completed the fit-out of Philip Mould’s new art gallery in Pall Mall and Offer Waterman’s gallery in the heart of Mayfair, as well as a number of high-end residential projects in Chelsea and Knightsbridge.
“The largest project we worked on was the completion of the West Hospitality Stand in London Stadium, covering 8,547m² of space over four floors. Each of the nine hospitality lounges and 16 VIP boxes incorporate design elements that portray individual themes to illustrate the story of the Westham United Football Club, the stadium’s Olympic legacy and place in local history.
“The sheer scale of the project required us to integrate quickly and effectively with other teams already working on site, some for a number of years.”
Have these projects differed in any way to how you usually work?
“Every client has their own unique set of requirements and specifications, so really, every project is different. The trick is understanding each of their needs and being as adaptable and accessible as possible to help achieve their design goals.
“We often have to communicate across multiple time zones, so we make it our mission to regularly update clients on a project’s progress by making ourselves available 24/7 to ensure the conversation, and ideas, are always flowing.”
When working on a project, what are the biggest challenges you face? And how do you overcome them?
“No two projects are ever the same so we’re always going to be faced with new challenges, it’s just part and parcel of the job. In particular, when representing luxury brands it’s essential that every component of the fit-out process is meticulously planned to ensure a smooth transformation. From sourcing premium quality products on the other side of the world to the coordination of logistics, every tiny detail is carefully considered before a fit-out even begins.
“What sets us apart is our ‘can do’ attitude and the fact that we have a highly skilled workforce who are solution-driven and will not stop until a job is completed to the highest degree.
“For example, when it came to the fit-out of Kate Spade’s Regent Street store, we were met with the design challenge of fitting a curved staircase, which required a large section of the first floor to be cut out. Thanks to the expertise of our dynamic team, the staircase (which was fabricated in steel with walnut treads and handrails) was installed in sequenced phases in order to meet the tight deadline and limit disruption. The end result is a stunning, one-of-a-kind feature that the client is extremely happy with.”
Are there any projects you’ve found too challenging?
“When we first started out as a fit-out contractor we definitely had moments were we felt out of our comfort zone. Even though our experience was limited at the time, our first project was a fit-out for Currys/PC World in a retail development just outside of Belfast. Through hard work and determination though, we were able to rise to the challenge and enjoyed a long, healthy relationship with Dixons Stores Group, which was the catalyst for expanding outside of Northern Ireland. Since then, we’ve had over twenty years to fine-tune our skills and carve a niche for ourselves in the luxury market, with numerous award-winning projects under our belt.”
Moving forward, what type of projects do you have on the horizon?
“Our diary is quickly filling up with six iconic stadia ventures lined up for the year ahead, in addition to projects in the retail, leisure and corporate sectors.
“We are also growing our presence outside of the UK with clients entrusting us with ambitious, high-end fit-outs in some the world’s most exclusive shopping destinations, including Avenue des Champs Elysées in Paris and Grafton Street, Dublin.”
What are you most proud of about your company?
“Without a doubt, it’s our team. Portview is a people orientated business and without the continued professionalism, dedication and support of our workforce we simply wouldn’t be in the fortunate position we’re in today. It’s through their passion and positive work ethic that we’re able to build long-lasting, meaningful relationships with clients, which is the foundation of Portview’s success.”