Yorkshire firm that gave its name to Camp Bastion has new owner

HESCO Bastion, the Yorkshire company that gave its name to the British army's base in Afghanistan, has been sold to the Belgian firm Betafence for an undisclosed sum.

The late Jimi Heselden

Leeds-based Hesco, which was founded by the late entrepreneur and philanthropist Jimi Heselden, is best known for protecting soldiers in war zones. The business makes tough barriers which have replaced sandbags as the most effective protection for soldiers. Camp Bastion in Afghanistan was named after the firm. Mr Heselden died in September 2010 in an accident near his home at Thorp Arch, Wetherby.

Hesco specialises in producing and delivering rapidly deployable perimeter protection, safe haven bunkers and ballistic resistant body armour for the defence, energy and law enforcement sectors, supplying clients including the US Army.

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Hesco has been a long term partner of Betafence and, following this transaction, will operate as a stand-alone subsidiary of Betafence, led by its current chief executive Michael Hughes. Mr Hughes said that the acquisition was a positive move for Hesco’s 92 Leeds-based staff because it gave them the opportunity to become part of a complementary global business, Betafence is headquartered in Belgium with nine production sites across eight countries. It employs more than 1,400 staff.

Mr Hughes said: “This is an exciting opportunity for Hesco. Our partnership with Betafence will enable us to accelerate Hesco’s development and we will immediately add significant value to Betafence’s provision of solutions for high security perimeter protection around the world.

“There are numerous opportunities for collaboration for our key markets and we believe that being part of the Betafence Group will help ensure continued future success for our employees, customers and suppliers. I will remain at Hesco in my role as CEO, running the business as a stand-alone subsidiary and being firmly focused on our ethos of protecting people and assets. It’s business as usual, there is no disruption to the operation of Hesco and we are committed to maintaining our presence in Leeds.

“The future looks very promising for our employees and all other stakeholders alike. I would also like to take this opportunity to thank the Heselden family for all their support, since the untimely death of Jimi. Jimi was Hesco’s iconic founder..His uncompromising drive to create products that continue to save lives, property and the environment is his legacy and will continue to exist in Hesco’s values.”

Last year, Hesco Group’s turnover was £31m, and Mr Hughes said he expected to see the firm’s revenue and profits rise this year. The firm’s US operations recently helped to protect residents in Iowa from flood waters.

Mr Heselden’s widow Julie added: “We are all immensely proud of the success of Hesco and the lasting legacy that has been forged in Jimi’s name.

“We feel this deal is something Jimi would have been happy with, and we know this was ultimately part of his strategy to move the business forward.”

Betafence, the Belgian company that has acquired Hesco, is a market leader in providing fencing, access control and perimeter detection services. Hesco was founded by Jimi Heselden in 1991 and remained in the Heselden family’s ownership after Mr Heselden’s tragic death in 2010.

Local legal advisers who were involved in the transaction included Richard Moran of Clarion Solicitors for the Heselden family, and Alison Starr from Eversheds for Betafence; supported by in-house counsel Charlotte Callens of Betafence and Andrew Taylor of Hesco. The transaction is subject to regulatory approval.