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Vetter UK welcome purchase by O\'Rourke

15 July 2001

Tom Dormer, the managing director of Vetter UK, has welcomed the takeover of Steinindustrie Vetter in Germany and Vetter UK by the O\'Rourke construction group.

Vetter, employing 1,000 people and turning over £30million at its height in 1997, ran into financial difficulties at the turn of the year and called in the receivers.

Just before the problems became public, Tom Dormer bought 100% of the UK operation to separate it from the Germans. He says the Germans were a victim of their own success and could not finance the amount of work they had won. Their order book when they went into receivership was worth DM65million (£22million).

Vetter UK were set up in 1998, although Vetter had won some contracts in the UK before that, notably at the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden, London.

Turnover in Britain has now reached £3million a year and the company employs nearly 100 people. Current projects include Festival Place, Basingstoke, a major shopping development in Scotland, Duke of Yorks in Sloane Square, a John Lewis store and Ealing Broadway in London.

Steinindustrie Vetter employ about 350 people and will continue to be run by their previous team. The purchase includes the quarries and impressive, purpose-built workshop in Eltmann, Germany, that Vetter moved into in 1993.

The workshop with its new machinery represented an investment equivalent to £14million and was processing 200,000m2 of stone a year. Tom Dormer says: O\'Rourke are extraordinarily enthusiastic about using the factory in Germany.

O\'Rourke have an impressive success story. In less than 25 years they have grown to become one of the major players in the UK and Ireland and have interests around the world. They have a turnover of more than £200million a year and a workforce of 2,500. They are currently involved in negotiations to buy Laing Construction.

Tom Dormer says he is looking forward to being part of a major group. The advantages we see are particularly regarding safety, quality control and the synergy of being part of a much bigger group.

Specialist subcontracting like we do is quite a difficult and vulnerable activity. To have the backing of a very strong parent as dynamic and expansive as O\'Rourke has to be beneficial.

The industry is consolidating. Small companies need strong parents with lots of influence.

Our strategy in the UK is to capitalise on our new strengths and to be as active as we possibly can. We want to expand our market share substantially.

Would that expansion involve further takeovers in the stone industry? It\'s not on the cards, says Dormer.

 

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