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GS House
Moorside, Colchester,
Essex, CO1 2TJ

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17 February 2021 by dom_admin 0 Comments

Bespoke joinery to take your project to the next level

At GS Contracts our joinery team never fails to amaze, creating spectacular bespoke fixtures and fittings to ensure our customers can turn their design vision into a reality.
Based at Moorside in Colchester, our in-house team love a challenge.

From the delivery of raw materials to the final installation, they combine traditional skills and an innovative approach to achieve a high-quality finish.

Full fit-outs

Sometimes a project arrives at our door that really allows the skills of the joinery team to shine.

The prestigious Rovi Ottolenghi restaurant in London is one of those. The opulent style and mix of materials create a stunning showcase for what the team can achieve, using specialist joinery and metalwork to complete the look.

The client was delighted: “GS Contracts are exceedingly conscientious, and even though our design specs were quite demanding, nothing seemed to be a problem.

Rising to the challenge

Led both by the design and the need to make sure the finished product is functional, the team works with a wide range of materials from timber and solid surfaces, to metals, glass, acrylics and plastics.

And if you want to create something which is really out of the box then look no further!

Bird Street in London was a brilliant example of innovative thinking which put our team to the test. The project’s aim was to create the world’s first sustainable ‘smart street’ – a tech-friendly, traffic-free thoroughfare which took advantage of next-generation technology from around the globe.

Our brief was to create the retail pods and street furniture for the project. Designed by architect Harry Dobbs Design, the brightly coloured, multi-faceted pods conjured up images of origami birds as a nod to the street’s name. Clever design meant they could either stand alone or link together to create larger units. We also created a truly unique bench, designed by a team of atmospheric chemists to allow visitors to enjoy fresh, filtered air while resting their legs.

Never a dull moment!

Working with restaurants, cafes, hotels, bars and shops means that the variety of projects which come through our joinery workshop is really varied. This was certainly true when we were asked to help create a piece of installation art at the spectacular Atoll in Finsbury Avenue.

The concept bar incorporates a bold 7.5-metre-high installation by artist Morag Myerscough. We used cladding and the exotic wood, iroko, to create the structure for this fairground-like centrepiece and the final result is simply stunning.

Standalone commissions

As much as our joinery team works to support full fit-outs, they can also help when a client wants to commission a bespoke standalone item to update their look.

A recent example saw the team create a truly unique cage seat from scratch and they are happy to work on other such projects.

If you have a bespoke joinery project you would like to discuss, get in touch today.

Call us on 01206 793053.

28 January 2021 by dom_admin 0 Comments

Nurturing future talent in construction

At GS Contracts our talented team are our very best asset. Always looking to the future, we continue to keep an eye out for emerging talent to help us take our business to the next level.

With a growing number of the construction workforce reaching retirement age – 22% are over 50 and 15% are in their 60s – and fewer young people choosing a career in construction, the need to spot and nurture fresh talent has never been more important.

One way we work to develop this future talent is through the construction apprenticeship scheme. Not only does this allow us to harness the enthusiasm of promising newcomers, it also gives young people the chance to gain skills and experience with the very real possibility of a career at the end of it.

A great example of the opportunities that can come from following the apprenticeship programme is Liam Saunders, our senior site manager.

Liam first joined GS Contracts when he was just 14-years-old, to carry out work experience.

He clearly caught the bug for construction, returning first for a Saturday job in the workshop, and then to complete an apprentice with us.

Over time Liam has worked his way up to the position of senior site manager and is a valued member of the GS Contracts family.

Liam is just one of a number of our employees who have started their career with us via an apprenticeship, gaining the necessary skills and knowledge to work in the construction sector, while at the same time benefiting from hands-on experience.

Although apprenticeships are traditionally aimed at school leavers, this doesn’t mean older candidates are excluded.

Take for example one of our talented workshop employees, Martyn Rhodes.  Martyn was 31 when he joined us. After being made redundant from his previous job he decided to sign up for an apprenticeship in bench joinery, spending part of his week at college and the rest gaining crucial experience as part of the GS Contracts team.

As in many cases, once Martyn had successfully completed his apprenticeship, he was offered a permanent job offer with us and six years on he is a key player in our joinery team.

Apprenticeships offer us a great way to invest in our people, while building a team of talented individuals with spark, enthusiasm and a real understanding of our business.

Interested in finding out more about apprenticeships with GS Contracts? Call us on 01206 793053.

22 January 2021 by dom_admin 0 Comments

Does your restaurant need a refresh?

Creating a successful eatery is about much more than dreaming up a five-star menu.

Think ambiance, comfort, lighting, how the space flows – and importantly the quality of the restrooms!

With a new year comes a time for reflecting on where you are and looking at how you can improve in the future, and GS Contracts is here to help.

While it is still a worrying time for the hospitality industry, some restaurateurs are taking this enforced pause on everyday life to rethink their space so they can come back better than ever once some sort of normality returns.

In fact, some of our customers hadn’t even got to experience what normal is like before needing to implement change.

Take for example The Athenian, a Greek street-food outlet which was a couple of weeks off opening its brand-new flagship restaurant within the arches of London Bridge station when the first national lockdown hit.

With the new reality of restricted numbers and social distancing, plans were redrawn to make sure customers could be served safely. We helped to install a contact free self-check-out system on iPads along with all the safety features necessary for our current times, including floor markings, dividing screens and distanced seating.

While The Athenian was pushed to make changes due to the pandemic, other well-established clients have had the benefit of time to identify tweaks to their set up which will create a better customer experience.

Tombo Cafe, an independent chain of three family-run Japanese cafes across London, did exactly that. Back in 2009 we fitted out the first Tombo in South Kensington, and during the first national lockdown we returned to do a redesign and refresh of the space.

Key to the project was increasing the space available for customers and improving the flow throughout the café. As well as moving some preparation elements to the back of house we were also able to reduce the counter size from around 70% of the front area to just 40% which provided much more space for customers, while still giving staff the work area they need.

At the same time, we stripped the unit, ripping out and replacing all plumbing and wiring, and completed the new design, with new flooring, new countertops and fresh decoration throughout offering a total refresh in just ten days!

Sometimes we are blown away by the creative solutions that designers come up with to transform little used spaces and help them stand out from the crowd – and we were delighted to work on one such example at Bombay Bustle.

With the design vision from the talented team at Fabled, our job was to create a new subterranean bar and dessert area in the basement of the restaurant, which could also be used for parties and events.

The result is truly spectacular with pale pink plaster walls, brilliant-cut glass screens, deep burgundy leather upholstery and a timber panelled ceiling. On top of this we also managed to manufacture and install our first ever DJ booth! Best of all we completed the fit out in just two weeks, showing just what can be achieved in a short time with minimal disruption.

If you’re looking to make changes to your café, deli, shop or restaurant then contact us. Give us a call on 01206 793053.

28 December 2020 by dom_admin 0 Comments

Celebrating Success in 2020

Creating amazing spaces is what we do at GS Contracts, and despite the huge challenges 2020 has thrown at us all, we haven’t been deterred! 

So, with the year now coming to an end we wanted to celebrate just some of our success stories, before we move forward with the exciting projects that are in store for 2021. 

Queens of Mayfair

We loved working on the fit-out of this sumptuous coffee bar by day and cocktail bar at night. Everything about it screams luxury from the floor to ceiling mirrors, hand-painted wallpaper in chinoiserie blues and golds, and high-end brass finishes. Despite our unwavering attention to detail, it only tool five weeks to complete. 

All projects have their tricky parts, and with Queens of Mayfair this proved to be the corrugated blue counter which runs the length of the front room. 

Despite being crafted to spec in our Colchester workshop, once installed in the London venue the height proved to be a bit too imposing. This certainly didn’t faze our team. They set straight to work sketching out alterations, before bringing it back to the workshop for a redesign. The final result is simply stunning. 

Spread Eagle

Our team really does love a challenge. So, when we were asked to convert a Grade II* Listed pub – part of which dates from the 1300s – into a beautiful Chinese restaurant, we couldn’t wait to get started! 

The Spread Eagle in Witham had been empty for some time and posed lots of challenges buildings of this age so often present.  

But at GS Contracts we have years of experience making the very most of original details, and there was so much to celebrate in this building including exposed herringbone brickwork and stunning wooden floors.  

Working with the vision of the designers at Harp Interiors, there was plenty of original, bespoke detail involved too, and we are particularly proud of the feature bar we created. The resulting AKA Restaurant & Lounge is a beautiful mix of old and new. 

The Athenian

The Athenian in London Bridge posed many a quandary for our team.  

As the unit is actually part of the station, there were extra restrictions and protocols we had to follow. On top of that some sections of the unit were made entirely of concrete. And if that wasn’t enough, just two weeks before we completed the project the country was plunged into its first lockdown. 

After a pause we returned to complete the project, with altered designs to allow for new rules for distancing and food retail. Additional Covid-safe rules also meant we were limited in how many people we could have onsite. 

The result is really something to be proud of, especially when you take into consideration the many challenges the team faced along the way. 

If you have a retail, leisure, residential or hospitality project you could use our team’s help with then don’t hesitate to get in touch on 01206 793053. 

samples of wooden furniture
26 November 2020 by dom_admin 0 Comments

Why you should consider using Corian

If you are looking to add unique style to your home, office or reception area then Corian could be just the thing for you.

This man-made solid surface is traditionally used for countertops. But at GS Contracts we are masters of Corian and understand that pretty much the only limit to how it can be used is your imagination!

Read on to find out more about this amazing material.

A seamless appearance

Fluid lines are what make Corian such a joy to work with. It can be used to create large shapes with no visible joins which means you can let your imagination run wild when it comes to design.

Endless choice

Corian comes in literally hundreds of finishes, colours and effects so there is bound to be one which fits your design goals.

Made from a mixture of resin, minerals and colourants, the dazzling array of hues ranges from Hot red to Mint Ice with many subtler options in between. Greys, whites and Anthracite black provide great neutrals, and there are options which mimic natural materials such as mahogany and weathered concrete.

And it’s not just shaping Corian that’s seamless – the colour and pattern is consistent throughout the product too, so you won’t end up with patches that jar because they are slightly different in appearance.

It can be shaped and curved

You can curve and shape Corian to fit your space and make a real statement. In a recent project we were commissioned to create a stunning reception desk which curved up and around the walls and ceiling, adding a real wow factor when clients enter the building.

Add a touch of luxury

Corian is great when used in the home, too. Although it is at the higher end in terms of pricing, its durability makes it a great investment, plus it’s easy to keep clean. Countertops, backsplashes, integral sinks, feature walls, shower trays, warm to the touch flooring, dining surfaces – the options are endless.

Versatility

The versatility of Corian makes it easy to leave a lasting impression with your customers or in your home. Think curving reception desks in unusual organic shapes, bold and striking waiter stations in restaurants or even small decorative items that make your space unique. Corian can be shaped to meet your needs.

Take the plunge

So now you know more about the wonders of Corian, get in touch to discuss how we can help you to incorporate it into your next project! Give us a call on 01206 793053.

18 November 2020 by dom_admin 0 Comments

5 Things to Consider When Fitting-Out Your Café

Owning a coffee shop is a popular life-goal but there’s more to a successful café than a good latte – the design and layout of your space is paramount to its success. Of course, this job is usually assigned to architects and designers, however your choice of shop fitters is also a decision that will be fundamental to the outcome of your fit-out.

GS Contracts has spent many years designing, fitting out and refurbishing coffee bars and cafes. As experienced shop fitters we can advise you on everything from costs to queue management, product placement to planning permissions, in a way that will allow you to avoid pitfalls, maximise your space and supersize your profits!

Here are the five most common issues we’ve come across that need every café owner’s consideration:

1. Budget

Be realistic! You need to take into account the cost of the premises; running costs from day one (you won’t be able to start a fit-out without electricity, for example!); professional fees- your architect, designer, labour; staff and any training they need; the cost of furniture, the all-important commercial equipment; ceramics and cutlery; branding; permits; licences… the list is long, so make sure you’ve covered all bases. It’s important that your budget is created with your design in mind and vice versa – how many covers will you need to do a day to break even and how many tables will you need to accommodate in your space to make that possible? If you don’t know where to start, let us help with costings and estimates to make sure you’re working within the confines of your finances.

2. Location, location, location!

Of course, you must pick a part of town that is busy enough to provide the footfall a café needs to be viable, but you also need to pick a premises that’s suitable – for example, does it have a power supply and power points in the right places? Can you install extractors? (Whilst the smell of coffee can be delicious, air must be circulated in a hot, working environment). Does the site have the permissions you’ll need to run it as a café, and if not, how easy will that change of use be to obtain? Then there are buildings with listed status or owned by public sector landlords – any of these things can cause issues further down the line if not factored in from the beginning. Luckily, with GS Contracts on board many of the headaches will be avoided or eased, because we’ve built up our expertise in exactly this over the years.

3. Design

Perhaps the most crucial aspect of any café’s design is the flow of the layout. It’s important to put yourself in the shoes of both employee and customer – does the barista have enough space to work methodically and get to the things he/she will need? Can your waiting staff get quickly across the room and access all areas with trays in hand? Will customers immediately understand how to queue and order and is there sufficient space for waiting for drinks without getting in each other’s way? Are there enough tables and seats? Have you got sufficient storage? With a custom joinery service like ours we can easily add bespoke fixtures, custom-made shelving and things like dropped ceilings so you can add heating and cooling features out of sight, so talk to us to find out what you can factor into your design to make the most of the space you have.

4. Decoration

Does the style of café you plan to open fit well within the area you’ve chosen? For example, areas like Shoreditch in East London have a quirky feel where art and individuality can take centre place, whereas coffee shops in the City of London tend to be simple, sleek affairs. A holistic approach to the decoration of your café will mean you think consistently about the storefront, signage, furniture, flooring, lighting and even colour schemes: Blues in particular have been found to curb appetite while reds can promote hunger. Perhaps not surprisingly, greens are associated with health and fresh nutrition and clashing colours are more likely to cause people to feel unsettled and either order takeaway or eat and leave fast. If you’re aiming for a relaxing, welcoming atmosphere, then calming, complimentary colour schemes work best.

5. Choosing the right team

Over the years GS Contracts has nurtured relationships with some outstanding designers and can recommend someone perfect for your venture. Our own team is made up of exceptional project managers and craftspeople who will become a key part of your success. Make our team your team. Give us a ring today.

Team Member Profile: Martyn Rhodes

Today we’d like to introduce Martyn Rhodes, another of our talented workshop employees.

Liverpool FC supporter Martyn joined GS Contracts 6 years ago, at the age of 31 when he was made redundant from his previous job. Fed up of starting over, Martyn decided it was time to learn a trade and so, he found himself in college once a week (with some much younger classmates!) completing an apprenticeship in Bench Joinery and working for GS Contracts, gaining and honing the practical skills for the other 4 days a week.

Martyn did so well and enjoyed the experience so much that he chose to complete a third year too which bagged him an additional advanced craft qualification and a Level 3 NVQ. The apprenticeship was funded through the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) and they also helped us to be sure we were supporting Martyn every step along the way.

Martyn is now a skilled and valued member of our joinery team, making desks, cupboards, bars, seating and bespoke pieces for many of our projects. He was the one tasked with remaking the bar for exclusive London café & deli Queens of Mayfair fit-out, which despite being built to spec, came up to almost neck height when actually installed, as the angle of the floor hadn’t been taken into account! Martyn remodelled the piece, which had brass plinths and so couldn’t simply be cut down, and both he and the client were over the moon with the finished article in-situ.

Another favourite job of Martyn’s was building a totally bespoke coffee hut for a client that now sits in Hyde Park – it was made at our joinery workshop, and Martyn vividly remembers that, after weeks of glorious weather, the day the client arrived with a 4 x 4 and a trailer to pick it up, it poured with rain!

  1. What’s your favourite food?      Pizza!
  2. What’s your favourite material to work in?       Walnut
  3. Which celebrity would you like to have dinner with?     Jurgen Klopp
  4. What’s your favourite ever project so far?         Bird Street pop-up units
  5. What was your favourite subject at school?      PE
  6. What’s your favourite tool?        Plunge saw
  7. What hobby takes up most of your time?      Watching, playing and coaching football
  8. What’s your favourite music to work to?       Dance music
  9. What item would you most like to make if money and time were no object?       An entire house to my own specification
  10. What’s the best thing about working at GS Contracts?    The people!

The people, eh? We couldn’t agree more. We’re super proud of our team of visionary designers, talented craftspeople and astute project managers.

Make our team your team. Just give us a call Contact us!

21 October 2020 by dom_admin 0 Comments

Team Member Profile: Simon Dale

GS Contracts is a family owned and run business with over 25 years’ experience. Founded in 1992 by, Gary Smith, we have grown from humble beginnings to the team we are today through our relationships, built with professionals, trades and suppliers, to make us the trusted and valuable partner we are known to be.

We firmly believe our people are our most valuable commodity. Central to our success is the right blend of talent, motivation and leadership. That’s why we are proud to be part of the Investors in People accreditation programme, because investing in people is not only the right thing to do, it also makes us more productive and more profitable. The We Invest in People accreditation is recognised in 66 countries around the world, making it the global benchmark when it comes to people management.

Today we put the spotlight on Simon Dale: Simon is one of the joiners here at GS Contracts and has been with us for 6 years. He comes from a shop-fitting background, and now spends his days in our in-house joinery workshop.

Day to day, Simon’s work is listing and sorting materials, sending pieces off to be cut at the machine shop, then assembling units ready to be shipped out or readying all the elements needed for pieces to be assembled and fitted on site.

Sometimes there is the opportunity to work on a freestanding piece of furniture, which Simon enjoys. His favourite job in this category was the hugely impressive ‘birdcage’ – a bespoke circular seating unit for a client’s garden, which involved complex joinery and where accuracy was key.

The other job that Simon was particularly proud of was the angular pods made for Bird Street in London. These stand-alone kiosks were made to house pop-up retail stores in the world’s first ‘smart street’. They took their inspiration from origami shapes and had triangular doors that ‘unfolded’ to provide access. They could also be linked together to create one larger space.

Despite being the hardest job Simon has ever worked on in his time at GS Contracts, he feels an immense pride in their completion and the fact that it is down to Simon and his similarly talented colleagues to make designers’ visions a reality.

Simon’s only bugbear with the job? That work comes in so thick and fast that he’s only just waved off one engrossing project, before he’s on to the next, with little time to reflect. But we’ve asked him to take a moment the next time he feels particularly proud of his work to take a snap, which we’ll share here with you, so we can admire it together!

We’re immensely proud of Simon and all our people and look forward to profiling more of them over the coming months.

Caught in Red Tape
18 September 2020 by dom_admin 0 Comments

Requirements, Regulations and Red Tape

Health and safety regulations, landlord requirements, permissions, permits and consents can all give clients a real headache: Every project encounters this type of red tape, and some are positively dripping in it! Luckily, here at GS Contracts we are not only skilled craftsmen and expert project managers, but also dab hands at cutting through the paperwork which often encumbers projects in the beginning stages, and sometimes hampers progress on site too.

Before We Begin

Over the years we have developed checklists and amassed know-how that allows us to keep one step ahead of the game when it comes to bureaucracy and compliance. Retail units, for example, are usually provided as a shell and core (e.g. breeze block walls, unscreeded floor and capped off services). This has the advantage of allowing the retailer to be fully responsible for the unit fit out (e.g. floor and wall surfaces, lighting, and on occasion, the frontage to the unit) but also means there is a whole shopping list of things that need to be checked before fit-out can even start.

Have You Thought About…?

Not to worry – we can guide any client through the minefield of requirements: Does the property have a basement? Then there will probably be weight restrictions to work around. Was the unit built before 2000? Then chances are you’ll need an asbestos report. Is there a sprinkler system? If not, is one required? Planning external seating? There’ll be permissions required for that. In a built-up area? There may be specific noise restrictions to take into account. What about delivery access and storing materials? Almost ready to open to the public – have you had a fire risk assessment done and do you have a COVID plan in place?

Tricky Locations & Landlords

For certain properties there is even more to think about – listed buildings immediately spring to mind, with their myriad of restrictions and covenants. But sometimes it’s the location or landlord which adds a layer of complexity: For example, we recently worked on the fit-out of The Athenian in London Bridge station: Our project manager attended a dedicated course with Network Rail which enabled him to run special inductions for sub-contractors, including information about measures intended to combat terrorism. On this project hourly checks were performed by station staff, doors had to be kept open at all times to prevent suspicious packages or bags being stashed away in a locked space and fire alarm systems had to be deactivated and reactivated every day to prevent an accidental evacuation of the entire station!

In addition, there were rules in place to prevent drilling into brickwork – special resin fittings had to be used and an external company brought in to run pull tests to ensure the intended loads would be safe to hang – and the originally proposed sliding doors were deemed unacceptable and had to be changed. With the advent of COVID, Network Rail were also conducting spot checks to ensure no more than the allowed number of operatives were on site at any one time and all staff had their temperatures taken every morning and evening.

Any work had to go through a 4-stage process for approval, including design, mechanical and ventilation, health and safety and construction drawings. At all these stages we liaised closely with the clients’ project manager and everything was uploaded to a portal for approval by Network Rail.

We’ve Got Your Back

We understand that jumping through red tape hoops can feel overwhelming, especially for inexperienced clients or those taking on a new type of project, but with GS Contracts you can rest assured we’ll have everything covered. Let us save you from a migraine or two and give us a ring to see how our team can help.

31 July 2020 by dom_admin 0 Comments

Gaysha acquires GS Contracts (Joinery) Limited

GS Contracts (Joinery) Limited is delighted to announce its recent acquisition by Gaysha Limited, a refurbishment contractor based in London. Founder Gary Smith will remain in the business as Sales Director and will continue to focus on generating new business and maintaining client relationships. Sue Smith will be retiring from her active involvement in the business and we wish her all the best for her retirement.

The Gaysha board will be working closely with Gary Smith & Operations Director, Michael Sullivan, in the day-to-day running of the business.

Gary Smith commented “I am delighted to announce the acquisition of GS Contracts by Gaysha Limited and to secure the future of the business for our staff and our valued clients. Working alongside Gaysha will give us the support to help us grow as we look to take the business to the next level. We will continue to offer our specialist interior fit out service, coupled with our in-house joinery manufacturing. Our partnership with Gaysha will now allow us to offer refurbishment services to our clients and a full turnkey fit out and refurbishment solution, giving us a competitive advantage amongst our competitors.”

“GS Contracts is a perfect addition to our current offering at Gaysha. Our clients want us to deliver more and to do so it is integral that we have a robust supply chain to support us. The construction industry is also becoming increasingly competitive so by acquiring GS Contracts we will look to benefit from the synergies and the efficiencies across both businesses” said Ian Elsey, Chief Executive Officer, Gaysha Limited.

Formed in 1992, GS Contracts is an established fit-out and manufacturing contractor with extensive experience operating across the leisure, hospitality and commercial sectors. Based in Colchester, GS Contracts works with clients from the initial inception of an idea through to completion. GS Contracts benefits from an in-house manufacturing facility, which produces bespoke joinery and metal work, supporting both fit out projects and stand-alone joinery projects. With all manufacturing in-house, GS Contracts has full control of its supply chain.