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Sat July 11 2020

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Forterra mothballs Bison factory

3 Jun Building products producer Forterra plans to mothball its Bison hollowcore flooring plant in Derbyshire and make around 225 redundancies as part of a wider restructuring.

Bison hollowcore flooring
Bison hollowcore flooring

Forterra saw its group revenue drop by 39% for the five months to 31st May 2020, with a year-on-year decline of 86% in April and 62% in May.

Daily despatches of brick & block products have now recovered to approximately 50% of corresponding 2019 levels.

Across the group, Forterra is currently manufacturing at 12 of its 18 facilities and is preparing to further increase production as demand requires.  It anticipates restarting production at most of the remaining six facilities by the end of July.

In a trading statement today Forterra said: “Economic and industry forecasts indicate a prolonged impact from Covid-19 on the UK economy and more specifically the construction sector.  Although the Construction Products Association's most recent forecast anticipates the residential construction market will recover during 2021, output in 2021 is forecast to be approximately 20% lower than in 2019.

“Accordingly, we are taking steps to restructure the group's operations in line with the anticipated decline in medium-term demand.  In the coming weeks we will consult with employees on our plans, which include proposed changes to shift patterns and adjustments to the size and structure of support functions. 

“Additionally, these proposals include consolidating the manufacture of all precast concrete flooring products at our Hoveringham facility in Nottinghamshire. This proposal will necessitate the mothballing of our hollowcore flooring manufacturing facility at Swadlincote in Derbyshire once the current order book is completed. 

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“These proposals will not affect our ability to service key customers or our specialist precast concrete facility at Swadlincote.  These actions, if implemented, will regrettably lead to the loss of approximately 225 jobs, primarily from our concrete products facilities.”

Forterra paid £20m to acquire Bison Precast from Laing O'Rourke but (as we have previously reported) it has been underperforming.

According to Forterra's website, Bison’s manufacturing site in Swadlincote is "an advanced, state-of-the-art factory with the capacity to produce flooring ranging from 100mm to 260mm in depth. The factory is the largest in the UK of its kind and is the first fully-automated, carousel hollowcore facility in Europe. The site also manufactures structural precast products, including stairs, landings, walls, solid floors, columns, beams and stadia components."

The Swadlincote factory will be mothballed once current orders are shipped
The Swadlincote factory will be mothballed once current orders are shipped

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