Building products boss says despite downturn ‘pent-up demand for housing’ remains

Building materials maker, Hanson, has shed 30% of employees since the economic crisis began, the firm’s chief executive said today.

Patrick O’Shea said “peak to trough” capacity had fallen by between 35% and 40%, adding: “We’ve lost about 2,000 people.”

O’Shea was speaking at the launch of the Heidelberg-owned firm’s £50m brick factory in Ashby-de-la-Zouche, Leicestershire. The facility, thought to be the largest in Europe, is expected to produce about 100 million tonnes of bricks a year when it opens in July.

David Szymanski, managing director of its building products section, said: “Despite the economic downturn and the subsequent fall in demand for bricks, there remains a pent-up demand for housing. This significant investment in the most modern plant in Europe emphasises our commitment to the future of industry and will ensure we stay ahead of the field when the recovery kicks in.”

The soft mud plant, which is situated on brownfield land, is BREEAM “very good” certified and uses the waste heat from the kiln to dry the bricks. It will employ 28 people.