Belfast Telegraph

Balloo takes growth to a higher level with Highway acquisition

New deal: A Balloo product
New deal: A Balloo product
Margaret Canning

By Margaret Canning

Equipment firm Balloo has acquired the trade and assets of a company that makes platforms to give access to upper levels of building sites.

Balloo Hire Centres in Belfast said the deal for an undisclosed sum to buy out Highway Plant Co was part of an accelerated growth programme.

Highway, which was based in Glebe Road, Dunmurry, was founded in 1983.

It was the first company of its kind to use access platforms here, a safer option than the traditional ladder and scaffold approach.

Highway's head office housed hire and administration staff, a training facility and an engineering and logistic department.

It's understood that the company, owned and run by the Houston family, had around 15 employees.

Mark Grundy, general manager at Balloo, said: "Balloo is one of the largest and fastest growing plant companies in the Northern and Southern Irish markets.

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"Our focus is to grow the business and continue to provide excellent levels of service to our loyal and growing customer base."

The acquisition will see Highway rebranded as Balloo. However, the company said that all operational contracts will remain in place.

Balloo Hire has around 120 employees across five depots here.

It is now one of the top tool, equipment and plant providers to the commercial and DIY industries.

Last year the company saw its turnover rise 25% to £11.6m, with pre-tax profits increasing by around a third to £2.9m.

Balloo's fleet includes 10,000 units across a range of 650 products.

The company's customers include the local movie and TV industry, supplying big productions such as Game Of Thrones.

Balloo itself was taken over by English firm Briggs Equipment in April.

Briggs Equipment, which is the Hyster-Yale Group's exclusive UK distributor for its materials handling equipment, said at the time the purchase represented the latest milestone in its programme of growth.

It already had a base in Newtownabbey.

Briggs Equipment's group managing director Peter Jones said: "Balloo is one of the largest and fastest growing plant companies in the Northern Ireland market and Briggs is committed to investing in and nurturing the business."

Belfast Telegraph