Exclusive: Construction News can reveal that Laing O’Rourke has acquired a Yorkshire architectural glass reinforced concrete firm.
Glass Reinforced Concrete UK, which specialises in bespoke architectural glass reinforced concrete products, will become a wholly owned subsidiary of the group and 38 full-time staff will transfer to the contractor.
GRCUK was established in 2009 and is based in Dinnington, South Yorkshire.
The firm originally supplied housebuilders with architectural components, but Laing O’Rourke said it had grown through reduced demand for traditional precast concrete architectural cladding and growth in demand for glass reinforced concrete on schemes by high-profile architects including Norman Foster and Zaha Hadid.
Laing O’Rourke said the acquisition strengthened its manufacturing portfolio and would allow the group to deliver specialist engineering contracts that require complex spray process GRC to meet “demanding quality and performance characteristics on large building and infrastructure projects”.
It said speed of installation, greater design optionality and improved environmental performance were reasons for using GRC on major schemes.
GRC has recently worked with Osborne on its University of Greenwich campus development and Eric Wright Construction on its new £8m building at Lancaster University.
Laing O’Rourke head of manufacturing Russell Kellett said: “The addition of GRCUK is a step forward in our design for manufacture and assembly approach, giving Laing O’Rourke a well-structured and financed organisation that is positioned strongly in the UK market to secure a large proportion of the GRC-specified work currently being tendered and awarded.
“As an established business with a proven record, a good order book, fully equipped factory with great transport links, and a committed workforce, I believe this acquisition will enable us to tap into new areas of the market to develop a lightweight cladding product.”
Mr Kellett said Laing O’Rourke’s balance sheets would offer “considerable scope for increasing the profitability of the business” through operating synergies with its core construction and infrastructure businesses.
Laing O’Rourke is using advanced manufacturing from its Explore Industrial Park in Steetley as a differentiator on bids, and is building schemes including Crossrail’s Custom House station from the East Midlands base.
The contractor already owns Emirates Precast, which carries out architectural concrete cladding throughout the UAE through a GRC division.
Gary Wells, former chief executive of the UAE firm Al Naboodah Construction Group, was appointed as Laing O’Rourke’s new UK infrastructure managing director in October 2013.
The financial details behind the acquisition of Glass Reinforced Concrete UK have not been disclosed.