Materials giant Hanson has added its weight to the growing e-commerce activity in the industry by creating a portal with three global competitors.

The site, due to be operational in 2001, is a joint initiative between Hanson, Heidelberger, Lafarge and RMC.

It will trade in bulk cement, aggregates, ready-mixed concrete and asphalt and will operate in the UK, Germany, France and Benelux.

Hanson chief executive Andrew Dougal said there would be opportunities for new industry portals, such as the recently formed Arrideo site launched by Amec, Balfour Beatty, Bovis Lend Lease, Kvaerner and Laing, to link together.

He said: “I can see a number of portals co-existing and inter-trading.”

The move follows recent on-line material site launches by Blue Circle, Italian firm Italcementi and Mercadium.

Mercadium, which was formed in April, this week teamed up parliamentary publisher The Stationery Office to combine a web-base information service with Mercadium’s trading service.

Hanson’s portal launch coincided with its interim results, which were boosted by the recent acquisition of Australian aggregates and concrete firm Pioneer.

Turnover for the six months to 30 June reached £1.38bn, a rise of 54% on the £896.5m for the previous six months. Pre-tax profit rose 7.9% from £122.2m to £131.9m.

While pointing to the positive performance of Pioneer, acquired in May, the group blamed bad weather for a flat market in its European quarry division.

The group said it was intending to raise its aggregates and brick prices in the autumn because of rising energy costs.

Dougall added that the group was looking for further acquisitions, mainly as bolt-ons to its US operations.

The City reacted badly to the results, sending Hanson’s share price immediately down 18.5p to 418p. The shares had slipped by a further 18p to 400p by early this week.