Heidelberg Materials UK

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(Redirected from Hanson plc)

Heidelberg Materials UK
Company typeSubsidiary
Founded1964; 60 years ago (1964) as Hanson Trust Ltd
HeadquartersLondon, England
Key people
Simon Willis
(Chief executive officer)
ProductsBuilding materials
Revenue£4,133m (2006)[citation needed]
£563m (2006)[citation needed]
£401m (2006)[citation needed]
Number of employees
3,500 (2019)[citation needed]

Heidelberg Materials UK is a British-based building materials company, headquartered in Maidenhead. Previously known as Hanson UK, the company has been a subsidiary of the German company HeidelbergCement since August 2007, and was formerly listed on the London Stock Exchange and a constituent of the FTSE 100 Index.


Originally known as Hanson Trust plc, the company was built up by James Hanson, later Lord Hanson, and Gordon White, later Baron White of Hull, who created Hanson Trust out of the former Wiles Group in 1964.[1] Their principal strategy was the pursuit of shareholder value through acquisition.

Growth through acquisition[edit]

Hanson and White were willing to take a wide range of measures to do so, including mass redundancies, and therefore attracted opposition and accusations that they were asset strippers.[2] From 1979, the company was successful from the shareholders' point of view and respected during the early 1980s, with Hanson (who gave millions of pounds to the Conservatives) admired by Margaret Thatcher.[3]

One of the most notable takeovers, at least to the general public, was the acquisition in 1983, of the United Drapery Stores,[2] or UDS Group, which owned many of Britain's most well known high street clothes shops and department stores, including John Collier, Richard Shops and the chain of Allders department stores. To fund this purchase, Hanson broke up UDS and sold John Collier to a management buy out team, and Richard Shops to Habitat, keeping only the core department store business.[4] In January 1986, Hanson bought SCM, an American chemicals to typewriters business.[5] This included the paper division that was formerly the Allied Paper Corporation. Hanson sold most of the SCM business units and the headquarters building in New York City for a significant profit.[6]

Its most significant single purchase, however, was probably its takeover of Imperial Tobacco Group in 1986.[2] Hanson paid £2.5 billion for the group then undertook a major reorganisation; divestitures netted £2.3 billion, leaving Hanson with the hugely profitable tobacco business for "next to nothing."[2] Hanson sold off the food brand, Golden Wonder, to Dalgety plc in 1986.[7]

In November 1988, Hanson went on to buy Consolidated Gold Fields for £3.5bn.[2] The Gold Survey was taken on by a new company, now known as GFMS. An attempt in September 1991, to purchase Imperial Chemical Industries, once seen by many in Britain as the nation's leading company but then in decline, was highly controversial, and ended in failure.[2] Hanson did secure the takeover of Beazer, a major housebuilder, that year.[8]

By the mid-1990s, conglomerates were no longer popular with the investment community. Some of the manufacturing businesses were spun off as US Industries in February 1995.[9] In January 1996, Hanson ended its time as a diversified conglomerate by breaking itself up into four separate listed companies: Hanson plc, Imperial Tobacco, The Energy Group and Millennium Chemicals.[1] This cost the group £95 million in professional fees by August 1996.[10]

Building materials focus[edit]

Lord Hanson stepped down as chairman in December 1997.[2] Led by Andrew Dougal, chief executive from 1997 until 2002,[11] Hanson focused on building materials, becoming the world's biggest aggregates supplier and the second largest supplier of ready-mixed concrete.[12] In November 1999, Hanson acquired Australian building materials business Pioneer International.[13]

Dougal quit the group in early 2002 to "rebalance" his life, leaving with a controversially large pay-off (variously reported at between £400,000 and £660,000, plus a pension top-up of £636,700).[14][15]

Acquisition by HeidelbergCement[edit]

In May 2007, HeidelbergCement announced its intent to purchase Hanson PLC for £11 per share, a deal worth approximately £8 billion. This deal made the combined company the second largest cement and building materials company in the world. The transaction was completed through Heidelberg subsidiary Lehigh UK on 22 August 2007.[16] In December 2014, Heidelberg Cement agreed to sell its Hanson Building Products division to the private equity firm Lone Star for £900 million.[17]

As of 2023, Hanson is planning to build a new carbon capture facility which aims to reduce the emissions from their current Padeswood cement works. The UK government chose Hanson, along with other companies, to show progress plans for carbon reducing solutions.[18]

In October 2023, the company announced that it was rebranding as Heidelberg Materials, as part as a branding rationalisation by its parent company.[19]


The principal markets of Heidelberg Materials UK are the major conurbations in England and Wales and the central belt of Scotland.[20] The company supplies heavy building materials such as ready-mixed concrete, asphalt and cement to the UK construction industry.[21]


  1. ^ a b "Hanson: History". Archived from the original on 28 September 2010. Retrieved 6 December 2008.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g "Obituary: Lord Hanson". The Times.
  3. ^ Cowe, Roger (2 November 2004). "Lord Hanson". The Guardian.
  4. ^ "Habitat: design of the times". The Guardian. 28 July 2011. Retrieved 6 March 2020.
  5. ^ "SCM Will Merge With Hanson Unit". The New York Times. 9 January 1986. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 19 January 2023.
  6. ^ Pratley, Nils (2 November 2004). "Legacy of the lord with the Midas touch". The Guardian.
  7. ^ "Golden Wonder timeline". Financial Times. Archived from the original on 11 December 2022. Retrieved 4 August 2014.
  8. ^ "Hanson to Buy Beazer In $609 Million Deal". The New York Times. 17 September 1991. Retrieved 7 April 2012.
  9. ^ Stevenson, Richard W. (23 February 1995). "Hanson Plans Spinoff of 34 U.S. Companies". The New York Times.
  10. ^ "Hanson faces pounds 95m bill for breaking up". The Independent. 28 August 1996. Archived from the original on 9 May 2022. Retrieved 8 November 2017.
  11. ^ "Andrew Dougal, non-executive director". Carillion. Archived from the original on 15 January 2018. Retrieved 17 January 2018.
  12. ^ "On aggregate, Hanson is a buy". The Guardian. 10 December 1999. Retrieved 17 January 2018.
  13. ^ "Hanson Seeks to Buy Australian Concern". The New York Times. 29 November 1999.
  14. ^ Osborne, Alistair (20 April 2002). "Hanson stands by chief's huge payoff". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 17 January 2018.
  15. ^ Cope, Nigel (12 March 2003). "Ex-Hanson chief gets £660,000 plus pension top-up". Independent. Archived from the original on 9 May 2022. Retrieved 17 January 2018.
  16. ^ Blackden, Richard (15 May 2007). "Heidelberg to buy Hanson for £8bn". telegraph.co.uk.
  17. ^ "UK brick maker Hanson sold by German owner for £900m". The Telegraph. 24 December 2014. Retrieved 30 January 2015.
  18. ^ "Climate change: Flintshire cement work's carbon capture plan". BBC News. 10 August 2023. Retrieved 10 August 2023.
  19. ^ "Hanson UK becomes Heidelberg Materials". Builders' Merchants News. 2 October 2023. Retrieved 2 October 2023.
  20. ^ UK, Youth Employment (14 June 2021). "How Does Hanson UK Supply Heavy Building Materials To The Construction Industry?". Youth Employment UK. Retrieved 19 January 2023.
  21. ^ Yumpu.com. "Hanson UK - HeidelbergCement". yumpu.com. Retrieved 19 January 2023.

External links[edit]