Gillespie, who will be responsible for all areas of the business other than housebuilding, was the boss at Edinburgh-based Morrison when it was taken over by Galliford Try in 2006.
He told The Scotsman: “Morrison’s background is as a small business – in the Highlands, we even still do house extentions.
“I want to instill that small business mentality in other parts of the company, whether their niche is in a sector or a particular geographic area.”
Gillespie said he is not chasing “high-risk, low margin” to try to keep turnover high, but is instead focussing on higher-margin work.
Morrison is part of the consortium building the Forth replacement crossing, which Gillespie described as “hugely important” for the company.
“The Scottish Government committed very early on to stimulate the economic recovery with infrastructure projects, which is a big help to businesses like ours,” he added. “Sadly central government has really been in a bit of a muddle.”
Gillespie’s promotion came as Galliford Try yesterday posted flat pre-tax profits of £32.3 million for the six months to 31 December, as revenues slipped to £678.3m from £746.8m.
House broker Peel Hunt said the previous year’s headline profits had included a gain from a land sale, meaning that underlying profits had actually grown by about 10 per cent. The dividend was raised to 12p from 9p.