Barr offloads quarries arm to Breedon in £21m deal

BARR Quarries, the largest provider of aggregates in south-west Scotland, has been sold in a deal worth nearly £21 million.

Peter Tom, chairman of Breedon, said Barr Quarries was an ideal fit for his groups operations

The business, which employs about 130, is being purchased by fast-expanding Breedon Aggregates for £20.8m in cash. All staff are expected to be retained, giving Breedon its fifth self-contained business unit in Scotland.

Owned by Northern Ireland’s Trench Holdings, Barr Quarries made an underlying profit of £2.7m last year on sales of £25m. The business is said to be performing well in 2014, with sales in the first half ahead of the same period in 2013.

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Headquartered in Cumnock, it operates 11 quarries, five asphalt plants and six ready-made concrete plants located from Stranraer up to Dalry. It has some 57 million tonnes of mineral reserves, enough to last about 70 years at current extraction rates.

The operations being sold make up the quarries and surfacing divisions of Barr Holdings, whose roots date back to the late 19th century when local builder W & J Barr & Sons set up in Ayrshire. Trench, which bought the business in 2007, is retaining the operations of Barr Environmental waste management and Barr Construction.

Philip Cheevers, chairman of Barr Holdings, said the deal would give the aggregates business the chance to develop under the umbrella of the UK’s largest independent company in the field.

“At Barr we will continue to focus on our core construction business, which is performing well, and on our environmental business which has made significant progress over the last few years and is trading very strongly,” he said.

Following the acquisition, Breedon will have 54 active quarries, 27 asphalt plants and 60 ready-mixed concrete and mortar plants throughout the UK. Staff numbers will rise to 1,250 and the group will have more than 450 million tonnes of mineral reserves.

In Scotland, Breedon currently operates out of four regions: the east, covering Fife, Tayside, Perth and Kinross; the north, covering Moray and the Highlands; the north-east, covering Aberdeenshire, Banff and Buchan; and the west, covering Argyll and Bute, Lochaber and Lorne.

Peter Tom, chairman of Breedon, pictured, said Barr Quarries was an ideal fit for his group’s operations and represented “a great opportunity to secure some rare assets”.

“Scotland has played a vital part in Breedon’s success and we have made significant investments there over the past four years,” he added.

“With the uncertainties surrounding the independence issue now behind us, we believe our prospects north of the Border have never been brighter and we can look ahead with renewed confidence. Our acquisition of Barr Quarries is a clear demonstration of our long-term commitment to this market.”

The deal is expected to close by the end of this month, but remains subject to Tupe consultations and final due diligence.