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Hanson to cut 250 jobs and close plants under restructure

Building materials supplier Hanson will cut 250 jobs under a restructure that will see 14 plants and quarries closed and other facilities mothballed.

The GMB union released a letter from Hanson UK’s chief executive Patrick O’Shea which outlined details of the restructure (see below) and confirmed that staff losing their jobs would be informed by tomorrow.

Hanson’s customer service centre in Wetherby in West Yorkshire will be closed while plants and quarries will be closed, merged or mothballed.

Mr O’Shea said: “[The proposals] will result in the loss of around 250 positions, but we will be doing all we can to mitigate job losses by eliminating vacancies and trying to find alternative posts for affected staff.”

GMB national officer Allan Black said: “These further job losses across the UK in one of the key companies in building materials give the lie to the notion that the current recession, now in its sixth year, is over.

“Once closed, these facilities are rarely or never brought back into production.

“This is only the latest cut in Hanson and the construction materials sector. The fear is that there are more to come.”

In response to a request from CN, Hanson verified the contents of the letter and said that falling demand for its aggregates, cement, bricks and concrete is behind the proposals to reduce capacity by around 10 per cent as the downturn in construction continues to affect trading.

Hanson is part of Germany’s HeidelbergCement Group and employs around 4,000 people at nearly 300 UK sites.

Mr O’Shea said he expects the restructure to be completed by the end of the year.

A reshuffle of senior management will see Phil Redmond taking over the aggregates division and Brian Charleton assuming responsibility for asphalt and contracting.

He added: “We anticipated some weakening in the market this year, but not on the scale we have experienced.

“More concerning is that 2013 is likely to be worse, with a further fall in construction output forecast. Against that background, we must take steps to balance the size of our business to the prevailing market.”

In addition to the customer service centre at Wetherby, 14 production sites are proposed for closure.

The hardest hit areas are Penrith in Cumbria, where it is proposed to wind down the civil engineering business with the loss of around 45 jobs, and Wetherby in West Yorkshire where Hanson’s customer service centre, which employs 34 staff, is to close by the end of March 2013.

“These proposals are regrettable, but critical to the future of the business,” said Mr O’Shea.

Relevant trade unions have been informed and consultation with affected staff has begun.

Hanson hopes to complete most of the restructuring process by the end of the year.

Notice from Hanson UK chief executive Patrick O’Shea:

I gave notice in September that the executive team was working on a recovery plan to combat the continuing downturn in UK construction activity.

I am today announcing a series of proposals designed to strengthen the business, protect our long-term future and ensure we are better equipped to meet the challenges which lie ahead. In summary the proposals are:

Aggregates: Mothballing of Shardlow, Tytherington and Sutton Courtenay quarries and closure of Hingston Down and South Molton concrete block works; production breaks during 2013 at a number of sites to match predicted demand; restructure of the operations and commercial management team under four area general managers.

Asphalt and contracting: Closure of Keepershield, Ystrad Meurig, St Ives and Tytherington asphalt plants; consolidation of the four areas in north and central into two, and a wind-down and closure of the civil engineering business.

Concrete: Closure of Perth, Minffordd, Blackpool, Stockport, Llantrisant and Tytherington plants; consolidation of the area management structure by combining North-east and North, South-west and south Wales, and East Midlands and Suffolk.

Building products: Closure of Accrington brick works and capacity reductions at Wilnecote; transfer of the brick and block distribution function to cement division at Ketton; staff reductions in support services.

Cement: Closure of Falkirk packed products depot and production cut-backs at Bulls Lodge; closure of the dry silo mortar business and transfer of the packed distribution function to cement division at Ketton.

Corporate and staff functions: Closure of Clifford House at Wetherby by the end of March 2013 and consolidation of the customer service centre functions into Shepshed and Allington as part of a project to improve distribution and sales performance; a 20 per cent reduction in spend for corporate functions, which will result in some job losses; combining the health and safety and environment teams into a new sustainability function.

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