Esh Group building future in the Borders

Esh Group has acquired both Border Holdings Limited and Border Construction Limited following lengthy talks aimed at taking advantage of strengthening market conditions

Brian Manning, John Davies and Peter Conway
Brian Manning, John Davies and Peter Conway

Construction and property firm Esh Group is extending its work in Cumbria and the Scottish Borders after making a key acquisition.

The £200m turnover firm, headquartered in Bowburn, Durham, has acquired both Border Holdings Limited and Border Construction Limited following lengthy talks aimed at taking advantage of strengthening market conditions.

Esh Group currently carries out construction work throughout the North and employs around 1,000 people, with offices in Durham, Cramlington, Leeds and Kendal.

Chief executive Brian Manning has visited staff at Border Construction, which will now be rebranded as Esh Border Construction, to talk to the 143 new staff members how work will continue and grow in Cumbria and the Scottish Borders.

The acquisition will see combined turnover of Border Construction and Esh Group’s Cumbrian activities reach between £40m and £45m this financial year

Manning said: “Before the recession Border was a £45m turnover business but that’s come down to £20m. We need more throughput.

“Esh is currently doing around £15m in that area and we’ll be combining that now.

“With the rebranding to Esh Border we’ll be doubling up on marketing and business development and the Esh brand is a strong one, with financial strength and stability, we can be a £45m to £50m turnover business.

“But it’s not all about sales. We’ve got to be able to get the profit margin up and become profitable.

“I spoke to the staff and they took it well. There have been lots of rumours over the last few years but I was able to tell them that we are a business builder – not a business stripper.

“Our business speaks for itself. In 1990 I was managing Lumsden & Carroll and it was a £2m to £3m business and now Esh Group is a £200m company.”

Over the last few years Border Construction has successfully delivered a number of construction projects across a wide range of sectors including education, health, public buildings, social housing and commercial build.

These include award-winning projects such as Robert Burns National Birthplace Museum in Ayr and the extension and refurbishment of Trinity School, Carlisle.

Peter Conway, managing director of Border Construction added: “This is a good fit for Border Construction and an opportunity to move the business forward.

“Esh Group has a very good reputation for business building and this deal will bring financial stability with it. Our team here is looking forward to working together with their new colleagues at Esh Group.”

Manning added: “There is a lot of hard work to be done to bring the businesses together and to create a model that will produce sustainable profit over the medium to long term.

“The outcome will be a major boost to the local economies of Scotland and Cumbria as Esh Group is a business builder and this joining together of Border Construction and Esh Group will lead to expansion and more work for local people.

“We also want to thank the owners of Border Construction, Hal McGhie and Anne Rafferty, for the professional manner in which the sale has been conducted. The negotiations throughout the process have been entirely constructive, avoiding unnecessary anxiety for all parties.

“This deal is good news for the other operational areas of Esh Group in the North East and in Yorkshire where we continue to grow.

“The integration of Esh Border Construction within the Group will strengthen our offering and cater very well for the construction needs of Cumbria and Scotland.”

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