Belfast Telegraph

Lagan Group's performance pleases new owner as sales at company rise to £447.4m

Construction materials giant Breedon Group plc has reported an 18% year-on-year increase in sales to £447.4m. (stock photo)
Construction materials giant Breedon Group plc has reported an 18% year-on-year increase in sales to £447.4m. (stock photo)
Margaret Canning

By Margaret Canning

Construction materials giant Breedon Group plc, which owns Whitemountain in Northern Ireland, has reported an 18% year-on-year increase in sales to £447.4m.

The company said that the former Lagan Group of quarrying and related companies, which it acquired from Kevin Lagan for £455m last year, had contributed to the strong performance.

Pre-tax profits were also up 30% from £30.4m to £39.5m.

The Lagan Group businesses includes Belfast-based quarrying firm Whitemountain.

Breedon said Whitemountain had a "busy period" in the first half, with numerous contract orders received in Northern Ireland, while investments included a new primary crusher at its Temple quarry near Belfast.

And a major contract had been awarded by DP World for the deep-sea port and logistics hub at the London Gateway in Essex.

The plc, which is based in the East Midlands, said: "We have good reason to be pleased with our progress on integrating Lagan's operations into the group.

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"It is barely 15 months since we completed the acquisition and a great deal has been achieved."

Breedon said it was on course to deliver £5m of annual synergies from Lagan by the end of next year. Its operations on the island of Ireland now include a modern cement plant in Kinnegad in Co Westmeath, nine quarries, 13 asphalt plants and nine ready-mix concrete plants.

Breedon said its operations in the Republic had also experienced continued growth "against a strong economic background".

Chief executive Pat Ward said: "We are pleased once again to be reporting an improved performance by the group in the first half. The period began well, with benign weather in the first quarter and generally healthy demand for our products, particularly in England, Wales and the Republic, somewhat offset by fewer large projects in Scotland.

"Our performance in the second quarter was adversely impacted by lower volumes in Great Britain due to a flat construction market, ongoing project delays and competitive trading conditions. However, demand in Ireland remained robust."

Mr Ward said there were "near-term uncertainties" but added that "July has started well and inquiry levels in Great Britain are encouraging, giving us confidence in a stronger second half".

He added: "We have a healthy acquisition pipeline, the medium-term outlook for our markets is positive and the board remains confident of meeting full-year expectations."

The company said Brexit-related uncertainties were casting a shadow over Great Britain's economy, with construction growth for this year likely to be flat.

However, the outlook for 2020 and 2021 was more encouraging, with healthy demand expected for infrastructure, industry and housing.

The business said its aggregates and asphalt sales had increased, with 9.9 million tonnes of aggregates sold in the first six months of this year, up 6% from 9.3m tonnes in 2018.

There had been 1.4m tonnes of asphalt sold in the first six months of this year, up 20% from 1.2m over the first half of in 2018.

Ready-mix concrete volume had fallen 5% from 1.6m cubic metres last year to 1.5m this year, but sales of cement were up from 0.9m tonnes last year to 1m tonnes in the first half of this year.

Belfast Telegraph