The future of nearly 200 jobs have been secured after historic concrete manufacturer Bison was taken over as part of a £20 million pound deal - with production set to double.
Bosses at Bison, based in William Nadin Way, Swadlincote, have revealed that the firm is now part of Forterra – creating one of the leading precast concrete manufacturers in the UK.
The company, founded by Royal Engineers in 1919 and responsible for an array of products, from pillboxes in the Second Word War to terraces of Old Trafford and the new Wembley Stadium, is to continue to be known as Bison Precast following the £20 million acquisition by Forterra from multi-national construction company Laing O’Rourke.
Stephen Harrison, chief executive of Forterra, said: "The combined manufacturing knowledge, skills and resources of Bison Precast and Forterra makes us bigger, stronger and faster, and reinforces our status as a leading precast manufacturer in the UK."
The Bison Precast brand will expand to cover Forterra’s existing precast concrete facilities at both the Hoveringham and Somercotes sites.
The overall production volume of Bison Precast under Forterra is to effectively double, making it one of the biggest precast concrete manufacturers in the country, and the largest in terms of precast flooring.
The expansion means the 195 existing staff at Bison, in Swadlincote, will join forces and share expertise with the 230 staff at Forterra’s Somercotes and Hoveringham sites, who specialise in precast concrete solutions for all sectors of the construction industry.
Matthew Clay, managing director of bespoke products division, which includes Bison Precast, said: "We are proud to be able to continue and build upon the long, distinguished history of Bison, a true British innovator in precast concrete for almost a century."
The Swadlincote facility in Derbyshire opened in 2006 and Forterra said it would allow the company to "take a leadership position in the UK precast concrete market whilst also expanding its currently capacity-constrained business."
As part of the deal, Forterra will enter into a five-year commercial agreement to supply hollowcore and other precast products to Laing O’Rourke.
Forterra said the Bison assets had a net value of £10 million and it expects to generate a return on its investment exceeding £20 million by 2019 through "efficiency improvements, proposed consolidation of production between sites, and leveraging procurement synergies."
Ray O’Rourke, of Laing O'Rourke, said: "We acquired Bison at the height of the global financial crisis, saving hundreds of regional jobs and allowing the manufacturer’s rich history to continue.
"Now, this collaborative and future-focused deal will provide enhanced value to Laing O'Rourke, Bison and Forterra.
"We will consult with all our hardworking people at Bison during this transition, confident it will mark an exciting next step for their growth, and our ongoing access to industry-leading specialist components.
"This partnership is part of our commitment to build a more collaborative industry centred on high-quality, off-site modular construction."