A-PLANT has taken pole position as the UK's market leader of traffic systems hire following its £15.5 million purchase of Lux Traff ic Controls.
The hirer, whose own traffic division turns over £10 million, picked up its bigger £19 million turnover rival last week, giving it 22 per cent of the market.
The Swindon-based Lux business has 40 depots, creating a combined network of 52 depots, with lit tle overlap, according to A-Plant chief executive Sat Dhaiwal.
Mr Dhaiwal said the business provides more of package deal than conventional plant rental, with a much higher level of interaction with both client and contractor.
He said: 'It is not like just renting a generator; it is a total package. We do a risk assessment and survey of the area to control, then provide a CAD drawing of the proposed layout for the local authority.
'Then we will handle road closures and the set-up of all the equipment for the contractor. It is far more than just turning up and setting up lights.'
He said the deal provides A-Plant with a ready-made network and a traffic controls training business, which APlant will expand. Lux's senior personnel, apart from the former owners, are staying with the company.
The new firm - A-Plant Lux Traffic Control & Management - will be the hirer's biggest specialist business.
Mr Dhaiwal said there was scope for more growth in the sector, which by its specialist nature offers good margins.
He said: 'It could be a £150 million market but it is fragmented, with a number of contractors having the specialist equipment on hire as part of their traffic management divisions, and many hirers offering hire of traffic lights as part of their fleet.'
He reiterated that the hirer was looking to double its market share in its specialist businesses, as well as expand the tool hire operation.
He said: 'We believe we are larger in plant than Hewden, if you discount cranes, but there is plenty of scope in the tool hire and specialist business to grow.'
He added that the Lux acquisition was viewed positively within the Ashtead group. 'We believe it is a vote of confidence, and shows the group is committed to the UK business.'