Wolseley in £30m deal for Burdens’ branches

HEATING and plumbing giant Wolseley has grown its UK operation by acquiring 22 branches from drainage suppliers Burdens for around £30m.

Wolseley said the sites, which include operations in Leeds and Sheffield, made revenues of around £40m in the three months to September 30. As a result of the deal, 600 employees will join the group.

Burdens is one of the biggest suppliers of utility and civil engineering products in the UK.

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The acquisition will give Wolseley UK the chance to take a leading role in the underground drainage sector, according to a company spokesman.

The spokesman said that Burdens’ product range would complement Wolseley’s Drain Center business.

Drain Center, which has more than 80 branches, is a supplier of drainage and utilities products to the professional construction market.

Steve Ashmore, the managing director of Wolseley UK, said: “Today’s deal marks another exciting milestone in Wolseley UK’s development.

“We believe the utilities market, particularly the water industry, offers many growth opportunities and this purchase would put us in a great position in that market.

“The deal is also in line with Wolseley UK’s strategy to hold leading market positions in all of its businesses.”

Jeremy Burden, the chief executive of Burdens, said yesterday: “Wolseley UK will provide Burdens with the level of focus it requires to realise its full potential in the market.

“It will benefit from being a part of a much bigger business, along with the financial strength that Wolseley UK possesses.”

Legal ownership and operational responsibility for the Burdens branches transferred to Wolseley UK yesterday.

A Wolseley UK spokesman added: “Wolseley UK will now make a filing with the UK’s Office of Fair Trading to clear the purchase, and, given the largely complementary businesses of Burdens and Wolseley UK, it hopes to complete the process as soon as possible.”

Wolseley employs around 360 staff at its site in Ripon, North Yorkshire. Wolseley can trace its roots back to 19th century Australia. The firm’s founder, Frederick York Wolseley, was born in Dublin in 1837, and emigrated with his family to Australia when he was 17.

In 1887, he founded the Wolseley Sheep Shearing Machine Company in Sydney, Australia. Mr Wolseley returned to Britain, and in 1889, he set up a company that bought the rights and patents of the Australian company for £75,000. Wolseley has grown organically and by acquisition to become the world’s largest specialist distributor of plumbing and heating products.