Hanson's success is well known. A brief history, paraphrased from the Hanson website, is given below.
Hanson PLC was one of the world's leading heavy building materials companies. It was one of the world's largest producer of aggregates - crushed rock, sand and gravel - and also one of the largest producers of concrete products, clay bricks and ready-mixed concrete. Its other principal products included asphalt and concrete roof tiles and its operations were in North America, the UK, Australia, Continental Europe and Asia Pacific. Hanson employed approximately 27,400 people in 14 countries.
In 1964 Hanson Trust was created out of the former Wiles Group by James Hanson and Gordon White. Hanson PLC went on to become one of the world's biggest companies with annual profits of more than £1.5 billion and a strategy of growth through acquisition.
In the 1970s and 80s Lords Hanson and White turned Hanson into a multi-national concern with interests across the world ranging from chemical factories in the US to electricity supply in the UK and gold mines in Australia. Hanson produced cigarettes and batteries, timber and toys, golf clubs and Jacuzzis, cod liver oil capsules and cranes.
By the mid-1990s the climate in which Hanson operated began to change as investors began to look beyond the traditional big conglomerate to companies focused on single sectors.
In January 1996 the decision to demerge the business into four separate companies was taken. Imperial Tobacco, The Energy Group and the US chemicals business, Millennium, subsequently became quoted companies in their own right. Hanson's strategy was to change from a diversified industrial conglomerate into a focused heavy building materials business.
The major building materials companies remaining within Hanson were ARC, Hanson Brick and Cornerstone.
Lord Hanson stepped down as chairman in December 1997. He was succeeded by Christopher Collins.
From 1997-2000 the Hanson board undertook the substantial changes required to deliver the new strategy. The remaining non-core businesses were sold. Considerable sums were spent on acquisitions to build up the existing businesses and capital investment on plant upgrades was stepped up to improve efficiency and reduce costs.
Early in 1999, to highlight the fact that Hanson was now a unified company, the names of all the operating companies were changed to Hanson. ARC became Hanson Quarry Products Europe; Cornerstone - Hanson Building Materials America and Hanson Brick - Hanson Bricks Europe. The company's business in south east Asia became Hanson Pacific.
Acquisitions continued, particularly in the US, and the company was developed into a global player with the acquisition in May 2000 of the Australian construction materials business Pioneer International.
In January 2002 Hanson created an integrated building materials business in Europe by combining its quarry products and bricks operations.
As part of its aim to simplify its corporate structure and make the existing group more responsive to market conditions, Hanson restructured its trading operations in June 2003 into four identifiable trading regions: Hanson North America, Hanson UK, Hanson Australia, and Hanson Continental Europe & Asia.
Hanson continued to review its operations with the principal objective of streamlining administration, reducing overheads and improving customer service by creating a more integrated building materials business.
In June 2004, Hanson announced further changes to its structure. The trading regions became: Hanson North America, Hanson UK, Hanson Australia & Asia Pacific and Hanson Continental Europe.
Hanson's existing Australian business combined with Hanson's operations in mainland China, Hong Kong, Malaysia and Singapore to form a new division, Hanson Australia & Asia Pacific.
Hanson's UK sea-dredged aggregates business, which was previously included within the Continental European operations, was integrated into Hanson Aggregates UK.
Hanson's operations in Belgium, the Czech Republic, Germany, Holland, Israel and Spain became Hanson Continental Europe.
Hanson's overall strategy remained unchanged. It is reinforcing its continued focus on cost and margin control, together with disciplined and proactive growth via capex and bolt-on acquisitions.
The management of Hanson hoped to develop and improve the business with the intention of delivering long-term value for its shareholders.
*This includes employees from joint-ventures and associates