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Precast firms delay lobby merger decision

Precast concrete chiefs have said they have not ruled out a future merger with a newly formed concrete ‘super lobby’.

Formal plans to explore a merger between the Quarry Products Association, British Cement Association and the Concrete Centre were announced last week with the British Precast Concrete Federation and the Concrete Society part of a wider concrete industry alliance.

This alliance would ensure all the sectors were acting together on common key issues such as environmental impact.

Martin Clarke, chief executive of the British Precast Concrete Federation, said the body would not be part of any super lobby for now but refused to rule out a merger in the future.

He said: “We had been invited to the discussion groups to merge but we felt it was not right for us just now.

“That does not mean we have ruled out anything in the future but at the moment we feel it is more appropriate to continue developing a wider concrete alliance. We share the common aims of mutual long-term benefit.”

Moves to explore the benefits of a merger between the three sector bodies follows a series of internal stakeholder meetings across the aggregates, concrete and cement industry last year.

Now a project team of QPA chair Lynda Thompson, chairman of the Concrete Centre Ian Reid and led by BCA chief executive Mike Gilbert, will look at the merger, establishing a concrete industry alliance and supporting the Concrete Society in its plan for the development of a Concrete Institute.

Mr Gilbert said: “The aggregates, concrete and cement industries work very closely together today. Our members and specifiers of our products expect us to provide joined up advice and guidance. We believe bringing the industry organisations together will help us be more effective in delivering that.”

Should the feasibility study prove there are substantial benefits to the merger it is hoped that formal approval for the new association, with an annual spend of some £11 million, would be sought from the relevant boards and councils later this year. The alliance will be developed over a similar timetable.

Analysis: Joint effort might close gap with steel

By Paul Thompson

A move by three of the largest concrete industry sector bodies to merge makes perfect sense.

A single, £11 million-spend ‘super lobby’ would help pull together a fragmented sector, enabling it to engage with Parliament to greater effect.

The individual groups have done sterling work to agitate and disseminate and should be applauded.

Just last month the Quarry Products Association successfully argued that European plans to force more legislation on quarriers under the soils directive were unnecessary.

But one of the reasons that structural steelwork has been able to make huge in-roads into concrete’s traditional business is that the concrete sector has taken its eye off the ball and instead of focusing on forging forward, pulling the whole industry in its slipstream, it has been concentrating on placating the myriad of sector bodies within it.

This svelte-like concrete body, whatever it may be called, could have the clout to begin pulling back some of its lost market share.