Hanson (Heidelberg Cement) – Restructuring and improving the operational performance of a multinational building products and materials group.

Our relationship with Hanson started in the 1980s, when we became part of their UK post-acquisition team that successively reorganised Ever Ready, London Brick, Imperial Tobacco and ARC.

Hanson created considerable shareholder value by skillfully restructuring under-managed businesses that had gone into decline. After the disposal of non-core companies we operated in the retained, core businesses that needed to be restructured. Hanson’s performance at that time was outstanding: we were proud to be part of that success.

After the demerger of Hanson, we continued to work in some of the new businesses created by that process – in particular Hanson PLC, focused on building materials, and Imperial Tobacco. These were both FTSE 100-listed companies. Hanson now concentrates its activities in the aggregates, brick and concrete products sectors, predominantly in the UK and the US – latterly it has been acquired itself by Heidelberg Cement.

Hanson Building Materials America

The US business has grown profitably. For over eight years we were involved in introducing the robust organisational structures and controls that had proved so effective in the reorganisation of ARC and Hanson Brick. Of equal importance was the drive to introduce best management practices – irrespective of where they flourish – throughout Hanson’s activities.

Hanson in the UK

Hanson Brick was created by the fusion of London Brick and Butterley. The business produces a range of facing bricks and inner-wall blocks for outlets throughout Europe. It is the market leader in the UK and has significant shares in other markets. Our work with Hanson Brick is typical of our activities in acquired businesses. We planned and executed the integration of businesses in northern Europe. Colleagues worked closely with Hanson’s managers:

  • to estimate the size of the markets, review competitors’ intentions and help to define the overall strategy
  • to set up an organisational structure to support the strategy for each market
  • to define responsibility for sales in new territories
  • to design and install operational controls for manufacturing and selling.

Our experience re-emphasised the wisdom of studying local customs and practices in a country before making critical changes to the strategy and operations of an acquired company. We used this approach again when helping Hanson to integrate nine, newly acquired brick manufacturers in North America.

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