In 1964 Hanson Trust was created out of the former Wiles Group by James Hanson and Gordon White. Hanson PLC went on to become one of the world's largest companies with annual profits of more than £1.5 billion and a strategy of growth through acquisition.
In the 1970s and 80s Lords Hanson and White turned Hanson into a multi-national concern with interests across the world ranging from chemical factories in the US to electricity supply in the UK and gold mines in Australia. Hanson produced cigarettes and batteries, timber and toys, golf clubs and Jacuzzis, cod liver oil capsules and cranes.
In January 1996 with investors beginning to lose confidence in conglomerates, a decision to demerge the business into four separate companies was taken. Imperial Tobacco, The Energy Group and the US chemicals business, Millennium, subsequently became quoted companies in their own right. Among the businesses remaining within Hanson were the building materials company ARC, which came with the acquisition of Consolidated Goldfields, Hanson Brick, and the US construction materials business Cornerstone Inc.
Hanson's strategy was clear - to evolve from a diversified industrial conglomerate into a focused heavy building materials business. From 1997-2000 the Hanson board undertook the substantial changes required to deliver the new strategy. The remaining non-core businesses were sold. Considerable sums were spent on bolt-on acquisitions to build up the existing businesses and capital investment on plant upgrades was stepped up to improve efficiency and reduce costs.
Early in 1999, and to highlight the fact that Hanson was now a unified company, the names of all the operating companies were changed to Hanson.
Acquisitions continued, particularly in the US, and the company was developed into a global player with the purchase in May 2000 of the Australian construction materials business Pioneer International.
In January 2002 Hanson created an integrated housebuilding materials business in the UK by combining its concrete products and brick operations to form Hanson Building Products. The division expanded through further acquisitions including Marshalls Clay Products, Thermalite, Redbank and Structherm.
In 2006, Hanson Aggregates UK bought Civil Marine (Holdings) Limited, a manufacturer of ground granulated blast furnace slag, which is used as a cement replacement in precast and ready-mixed concrete.
Further acquisitions were also completed in Europe, Asia Pacific and the US before the company was acquired by HeidelbergCement Group AG in September 2007.
Hanson's UK aggregates, concrete and building products businesses were integrated with HeidelbergCement's UK arm, Castle Cement, to create the country's leading producer of heavy construction materials.
In March 2015 Heidelberg Materials completed the sale of Hanson Building Products to the US private equity investor Lone Star Funds. The sale included the brick, block and precast concrete businesses in North America and the UK.
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