Forterra, formerly Hanson Building Products until 2015, includes the brands London Brick, Thermalite and Bison precast. In the six months to 30th June 2019 it made a pre-tax profit of £32.7m, up 1.2% year-on-year (2018 H1: £32.3m). Revenue for the half-year was up 7.6% to £193.6m (2018 H1: £180.0m). Profitability was impacted by increased operating costs, the company said.
Brick volumes were up modestly in the first half, reflecting continuing house-building activity. Brick sales into the merchant and distributor channels were relatively good in the first four months, Forterra said, with some replenishment of the supply chain. But sales then started to soften in May and June. Precast volumes in the first half were also higher though against a weaker comparative, and the business continued the productivity improvements that it made towards the end of 2018.
The Bison Precast business secured a number of large contracts in the first six months totalling more than £10m for deliveries starting in the second half. These include the new £250m Wellingborough Prison that Kier is building. Bison is supplying bespoke precast walls, solid slabs, columns, stairs and landings. The order also includes insulated brick-faced sandwich panels to the entry building façade featuring the Forterra Village Golden Thatch brick.
Forterra has also now started construction of a new brick facility at Desford following the confirmation of full planning consent. Once completed, the £95m investment is expected to result in the biggest and most efficient brick plant in Europe. Full production is expected to start in 2022.
Forterra chief executive Stephen Harrison said: "We remain watchful of the impact of the current political and economic uncertainty on our end markets. While noting that some recent economic data points have weakened, demand for products supplied into the new build residential market remains robust. Based on our order book and the continued strength of our core market, the board's expectations for the full year are unchanged. The board remains confident of its strategy and its belief that the business is well positioned to benefit from the attractive market fundamentals over the medium term."