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UK company goes independent as German parent hits trouble

15 February 2001

Steinindustrie Vetter in Germany are facing financial problems. However, Vetter UK split away from their German parent just before the problems became public.

Vetter UK, which was headed by Tom Dormer, has now been bought by him. He owns 50% of the company personally and the other 50% is owned by Dormerstein, the company belonging to him and his father.

Dormer is keen to emphasise that the troubles in Germany do not affect the British operation. Vetter UK are currently working on the Duke of Yorks redevelopment in London, Festival Place in Basingstoke and the new Pfizer headquarters in Sandwich, Kent, among other projects both in the UK and abroad.

However, Tom Dormer said the UK operation had grown apart from its German parent and that none of the current projects were using Vetter\'s stones. Nor, he said, were any of the stones for the projects being processed at Vetter\'s impressive German factory in Eltmann.

In many respects it makes more sense for us to be independent, says Dormer. We are now much freer to do Portland stone jobs.

One of their recent contracts was, in fact, a Portland limestone flooring project for Portcullis House, the new parliamentary building in London. Nevertheless, as part of the German company Vetter UK were supposed to champion their parents\' stones.

We were acting as agents for Vetter but really we had grown to such an extent doing so much work that wasn\'t Vetter stone that it was better we were apart. It made more sense from a practical point of view.

Those from the UK, including this magazine, who had visited the German operation could not help but be impressed by the massive factory in Eltmann and all its machinery - a £14million investment in 1993.

The factory employed 200 of the 1,000 people in the Vetter organisation, including 45 architects, engineers, technicians and draughtsmen. It processed 200,000 square metres of stone each year which Vetter also fixed, achieving a turnover of £30million a year.

In the UK, Dormerstein worked with the German company for several years before the formation of Vetter UK. They won a number of prestigious contracts, including parts of the Royal Opera House in London and the acres of limestone flooring at the Bluewater shopping development.

Currently Vetter UK employ about 100 people. Tom Dormer says: We took the chance to grow the company when we had a big parent, now we are completely independent.

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