Newry building supplies group expanded its workforce by 200 last year

The Haldane Shiells group continued to expand through a series of acquisitions in 2018
Ryan McAleer

EXPANDING Newry building supplies group Haldane Fisher added 200 people to its workforce last year, new accounts for the business have revealed.

The company report, which covers the 12 months to December 31 2018, includes a period in which the group completed a number of acquisitions. The Newry group bought Co Fermanagh builders merchant Robert Dickie & Sons in January 2018. Five months later, it acquired Key Hardware Ltd in Belfast.

Together with the opening of a new Bathline branch in Belfast, it saw the group's workforce expand by almost 20 per cent from 541 to 639 over the year.

It added £3 million to the group's annual staff costs of £18.4 million.

The Irish firm, which publishes its grouped accounts as Haldane Shiells and Company, is now one of the largest independent suppliers to the construction industry in Ireland and Britain,

It remains headquartered in the Carnbane Industrial Estate in Newry, but its businesses are spread througout Ireland, England and the Isle of Man. Timber specialists GE Robinson was acquired by the Newry company in 2006.

The English business, which dates back to 1914, now operates four sites in Britain, operating a fleet of 18 vehicles.

Overall, turnover at Haldane Shiells and Company increased by 14.3 per cent in 2018. Pre-tax profits also rose 12.8 per cent to £5m in the 12 months to December 31 2018.

A strategic report signed by group director Ian Haldane, acknowledged that while the market remained highly competitive, it said the group had continued to invest in its branch network and infrastructure.

The report revealed the group's strategy of focusing on maintaining short-term debt finance, designed to ensure it has sufficient available funds for operations and planned expansion.

The Newry firm's directors also acknowledged the ongoing political and economic uncertainty.

“Ongoing Brexit negotiations, combined with the continuing lack of a local executive and government in Northern Ireland, will undoubtedly throw up new challenges for trade in and between the UK and Ireland.

“The group has taken a number of preparatory steps in relation to Brexit and while cautious, we are confident that we have the necessary skills, resources and leadership to continue our growth strategy and to seek out opportunities in the new post-Brexit marketplace.”

The report also highlighted the role of the group's workforce in its recent success.

“Strong and supportive relationships with customers and suppliers have been at the heart of our success over many years and will continue to be a driving focus going forward.

“The results for 2018 are testament to the employees who work throughout the group.”

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