Marshalls, the hard landscaping and drainage products group with their roots in Yorkstone production, have bought Stancliffe Stone Co, the natural stone business started in 1982 by Derbyshire builder David Holmes, for Â£10million.
For Marshalls, a group with 3,000 employees and a turnover of nearly Â£300million a year, much of it from concrete and clay products, the takeover represents a substantial expansion in the ownership of quarries in the UK.
Stancliffe have expanded over the years with the purchase of Cumbria Stone in 1990 and the Scottish Locharbriggs Sandstone company in 1999. They now extract Salterwath, Plumpton Red Lazonby, Red St Bees, Stanton Moor, Hall Dale, Only House and Locharbriggs sandstones, as well as the Stancliffe stone from which the group gets its name. They also produce Orton Scar and Derbyshire limestones.
The management of the Stancliffe group was centralised into a new, purpose-built head office in Derbyshire at the end of 1998. Sales have grown steadily and turnover last year was up to Â£5.9million. The company are still run by David Holmes\' family, headed by his daughter, Kathy Donnelly, as managing director.
With the move to the new head office a new second tier of management was recruited to strengthen the group in areas such as sales and marketing, estates and customer services. They have brought some real benefits to the company, says Kathy Donnelly.
Seven members of the family held shares in the firm, although only four members continued to be actively involved in it. Marshalls bought the entire shareholding for cash.
Marshalls say there are no changes in management at Stancliffe planned and no redundancies. And the Stancliffe companies will contin ue to operate under their existing names. Marshalls point to Stone Market and Classical Flag Stone, two other companies they bought that still operate under their own names, as an indication that where a business is established there can be benefits to retaining the name.
Marshalls\' natural stone business, the expansion of which has largely come about through imported products in the past few years, comes under the group\'s emerging businesses sector, headed by Blair Illingworth.
Once the takeover of Stancliffe had been finalised on 19 June, Chris Burnett, chairman of Marshalls plc, said: Stancliffe are a well managed, high quality natural stone business with a good cultural and operational fit with Marshalls.
Marshalls were already supplying custom masonry, walling and roof slates, as well as hard landscaping, but the Stancliffe purchase will considerably expand their presence in the natural stone sector, especially in walling.
Stancliffe will now have the considerable financial backing of Marshalls. Kathy Donnelly says: Both companies have a mentality of continuous investment - any company that doesn\'t is going to be left behind. The stone industry is no different to any other producer of building materials. We have to invest in the technology that allows us to produce most economically.
She said that Stancliffe were always going to be interested in knowing about new reserves of stone.