Case Study - Highland business continues stonemason tradition

The Royal Northern Infirmary in Inverness was built at the turn of the 19th century by John Smith of Banff and stonemasons James and Alexander Nicol of Forres and Hugh Suter of Inverness. And, over 200 years later, when work was needed to the former hospital overlooking the River Ness, it was Highland-based skilled specialists who restored the imposing building.


The grade two listed building is now the University of the Highlands and Islands (UHI) executive office. Last year, UHI advertised a contract for stonework repair through Public Contracts Scotland – The Scottish Government’s flagship public sector procurement portal.

Wester Ross-based Kishorn Specialist Contractors Ltd won the competition that demonstrated the required skills and expertise to carry out the contract worth £47, 712.
Using its experienced stonemasons, Kishorn Specialist Contractors used traditional skills and materials to carry out refurbishments to the building’s facade and chimneys – completing the work on time and within budget.

Kishorn Specialist Contractors and its sister company KDL, employ around 35 people with an annual turnover of £2.5 million. The UHI contract was the first it received through PCS, however the business find the portal particularly useful to identify subcontracting opportunities.

Mike Tweats, director, Kishorn Specialist Contractors, explains: “The business has been registered with Public Contracts Scotland for some time and we find it very good for keeping track of opportunities throughout Scotland.  The fact that the portal is transparent, and businesses can see when and to who contracts have been awarded, means that we can approach successful companies for potential subcontracting work.

“We were very pleased to win the UHI contract, particularly as we were able to demonstrate our traditional skills on this particular project.”

Following a survey identifying the required repairs and specifications for work to the Millennium Institute, UHI advertised the work using the Low Value Contract section of PCS.

Tim Skyrme, facilities manager for the University of the Highlands and Islands executive office, said: “The work needed to the building was very specialised so by using Public Contracts Scotland we could ensure the contract was advertised widely and attracted suppliers with the right skills.

“After evaluating the bids, Kishorn Specialist Contractors was selected as offering the best value for money and delivering the required criteria.”
Photo caption:  University of the Highlands and Islands (UHI) executive office, formerly the Royal Northern Infirmary in Inverness.