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Hanson set to axe 300 staff

Aggregates giant cuts back as Government-led demand for roads asphalt dwindles

MORE than 1,000 staff at materials giant Hanson are sweating over their jobs as the firm looks to cut costs in its ailing UK aggregates division.

A Hanson spokesman said letters had been sent out to employees who were at risk of redundancy this week as the company targets massive savings among backroom staff.

Hanson Aggregates - which employs 3,500 people - plans to shed at least 316 jobs from 1,400 staff working in management, technical support, accounting and human resources by the end of June next year.

And a further 234 employees will be given the stark choice of relocating as jobs are centralised, or quitting the firm altogether. In total 550 staff will be affected.

Hanson hopes the measures will produce savings of up to £20 million a year in the division.

A Hanson spokesman said: 'We are planning to consolidate 23 sales offices down to just half a dozen and we are also combining our 54 materials testing centres into one laboratory.

'Some staff will be given the option of moving but somebody in a clerical job, for example, is probably not going to want to move 60 miles away.'

The cull is being masterminded by Patrick O'Shea, who took over from Mike Ogden as managing director of Hanson Aggregates in June with a brief to cut costs at the firm.

The move was prompted by a fall in demand for aggregates from central and local government, with asphalt volumes falling by more than 10 per cent.The firm posted interim results in June showing operating profits falling from £37.7 million to £24.9 million in the aggregates division.

The spokesman added: 'All of the aggregates sector is suffering at the moment - demand outlook is flat at best.

'It is a highly competitive sector and the ones who get their overheads and structure right are the ones who will succeed.'

And there will be little seasonal cheer for the Hanson staff who do survive the cuts as management have decided they will have to pay for their own Christmas party.

An email to staff from Mr O'Shea seen by Construction News said: 'The company will NOT pay for Christmas functions since I consider it to be entirely inappropriate when a large number of people are leaving the organisation through redundancy. I have no objection to functions taking place provided they are self financing.'

The Hanson staff who do survive the cuts as management have decided they will have to pay for their own Christmas party.

An email to staff from Mr O'Shea, seen by Construction News, said: 'The company will not pay for Christmas functions since I consider it to be entirely inappropriate when a large number of people are leaving the organisation through redundancy.

I have no objection to functions taking place provided they are self financing.'

Mr O'Shea has also launched a crackdown on the 'somewhat liberal approach to expenses associated with travel and entertainment' calling for a 'degree of restraint and appropriate judgement' from managers.

russell. lynch@construct. emap. com