Breedon aims to build its Scottish team in £34m deal

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Construction materials ­supplier Breedon Aggregates is to build its presence in Scotland through the £34 million acquisition of a range of assets from rival Aggregate Industries.

The purchase of seven ­ready-mixed concrete plants, six quarries, four asphalt sites and two concrete-block facilities will see about 150 workers join the group, which said it expects to grow its headcount further ­following the deal.

The assets are spread across Grampian, the Hebrides, the Highlands and Tayside, and Breedon chairman Peter Tom told The Scotsman he knew them “very well” as he previously ran Aggregate Industries, which was bought by Swiss firm Holcim for £1.8 billion in 2005.

Tom added: “We have worked hard to invest in the businesses we have acquired and I would be very confident that we’re likely to create jobs. We’re intent on building the business.”

The firm already has a strong presence north of the Border, where its assets include concrete plants in Aviemore, Dunfermline, Inverurie and the Stirlinghill quarry near Peterhead.

Breedon, which has a 37.5 per cent stake in trunk road maintenance firm Bear Scotland and sponsors the Highland Football League Cup, said the acquisition would have added about 20 per cent to last year’s revenues of £173.5m and boosted underlying pre-tax profits by 24 per cent.

The firm said: “There is ­potential to significantly improve the performance of these operations through rationalisation and significant new contracts, including the upgrade to the A9 north of Perth and the Aberdeen western peripheral route.”

Along with the purchase of the Aggregates Industries sites, which include five inactive quarries, Breedon also revealed yesterday that it was in talks to buy four quarries in England from Marshalls for up to £19m.

The deals, which Tom said marked Breedon’s biggest acquisition since it was formed five years ago, would take the workforce to about 1,000 and will be funded by a £61m share placing.

Tom said the group was “thrilled to bits” with the response to its fundraising ­exercise, which has attracted institutional investors such as Aviva and Axa Framlington, while existing major shareholder Invesco has also participated.

If the Marshalls’ deal goes ahead, Breedon will have 37 quarries across the UK, along with 22 asphalt plants and 48 concrete sites.

Tom said his firm has benefited from the expansion of Scotland’s renewable energy industry, as it is a major supplier of ready-mixed concrete for wind-turbine bases, although he acknowledged that conditions in the wider economy were “tough”. He added: “Despite all the difficulties, we had a very good year in Scotland.”