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UK precast concrete consolidation 02 Dec 2015

Peter Kenyon, TunnelTalk

With an array of tunnel projects on the UK horizon, Northern Ireland-based precast concrete specialist FP McCann acquires Buchan Concrete Products (BCP).

Cheshire-based BCP is one of very few UK companies to manufacture precast segmental linings for tunnels, as well as having the capability to deliver precast solutions for lining vertical shafts of diameters up to 25m in diameter.

BCP is the new company that has emerged from the troubled Buchan Concrete Solution (BCS), which was only brought out of administration earlier this month by its founding director, operating under the new company name of Buchan Concrete Products (BCP). The assets of the older, established, company (BCS) were acquired from the administrator under a so-called “pre-pack administration agreement.” This arrangement enables existing directors operating under a new company name – in this case Buchan Concrete Products (BCP), which itself was established only three weeks prior to BCS being placed into administration – to acquire the assets of the older company in circumstances when it is facing serious problems or threats from creditors.

According to the Administrator’s statement of proposals filed at Manchester District Court: “The Company [BCS] had been facing acute financial difficulties in recent months and more importantly creditor pressure in recent weeks had become increasingly difficult to handle.

“I understand that this situation has arisen for two main reasons. The first relates to under-pricing, originally, and the second is due to a programming issue in that a number of jobs have all come on stream at the same time, which was not expected, and they [BCS] could not cope with the programme.”

The Administrator went on to report losses of £545,000 in 2013, £825,000 in 2014, and £1.6 million in the short reporting period to September 2015.

The newly-emerged company, BCP, which acquired all the assets of the old company for a price of £1.54 million, forecasts a return to profit on an annual turnover of £37 million, helped largely by the transfer of a contract held by the old company (BCS) to supply the precast segmental lining for the Shieldhall wastewater tunnel project in Glasgow, Scotland.

Buchan supplied 151,000 segments for London cable tunnel
Buchan supplied 151,000 segments for London cable tunnel

This week’s acquisition of the new company, BCP, by FP McCann, comes ahead of imminent TBM launch in Glasgow – for which BCP now holds the segmental lining production contract with the project’s main contractor, the Costain/Vinci joint venture. Under the contract BCP will manufacture the 19,500 precast segments required for the 3.1 miles x 4.7m o.d. tunnel.

BCS/BCP has a close trading relationship with Costain – one of the UK’s main tunnelling contractors – for which it also supplied 151,000 precast concrete segments for the now-completed 28.5km long London cable tunnel. It has also supplied shaft rings and cover slabs for Balfour Beatty and Carillion.

Established in the 1930s as tunnelling contractor CV Buchan, the company now concentrates on precast solutions for the civil engineering and building sectors; it has been variously owned by Fairclough and Amec.

Acquiring the production facilities and 340 staff of BCP increases McCann’s ability to compete for a pipeline of UK mega-projects that are on the horizon. These include shafts and tunnels for the 42km of twin running underground alignment for HS2, the 32km-long single bore York Potash mineral transportation tunnel in Yorkshire, which will require several deep shafts, and the future possibility of Crossrail 2 in London.

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