Clugston puts success down to a happy family

Stephen Martin.
Stephen Martin.
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THREE-quarters of a century ago, Leonard ‘LG’ Clugston founded Clugston Cawood in Scunthorpe.

He built the most modern coating plant in Britain for slag, a major byproduct of the town’s steel-making industry.

According to a company historian, the enterprise was typical of LG’s progressive and innovative spirit.

Today, John Clugston, chairman of the Clugston Group, is remembering his father and the foundations he laid for one of the region’s strongest family businesses.

To mark the historic occasion, employees have raised more than £85,000 towards their nominated charities.

They will also bury a time capsule with company memorabilia, this year’s accounts and a copy of today’s Yorkshire Post to be opened in 2087.

Stephen Martin, the 46-year-old chief executive, paid tribute to the group’s “family approach, where everyone in the business is part of the family and they all contribute to its success”. He added: “Without great people, you cannot have a great business.”

The group is heavily exposed to the construction industry, a sector that has suffered more than most since the financial crisis of 2008 and subsequent recessions.

But the directors have moved to diversify the business into growth markets to insulate itself against the worst of the downturn.

It has also been helped by the fact that it has “no debt whatsoever” and is not beholden to the banks, said Mr Martin.

The group turns over between £110m-£115m. The biggest division is construction which contributes £100m. The logistics and property development divisions contribute the rest.

Clugston went into renewable energy relatively early, building an energy-from-waste plant in Sheffield in 2006, and generates around £60m from the sector through its construction division.

The group is on site at three such projects in Lincolnshire, Staffordshire and Oxfordshire. It is partnering with the French industrial firm CNIM.

Mr Martin said: “We are absolutely passionate about the green agenda and making sure that we don’t just send all of our waste to landfill.

“It’s not sustainable. 98 per cent of the resources that flow through the economy end up as waste within six months. What we are trying to do is improve the recycling rate.”

He added: “The green agenda is going to be vitally important for the economy going forward.

“We are going to continue to focus on our specialist expertise in energy from waste and continue to identify opportunities in that market and go after them very aggressively.”

Another growth area for the group is the fuel transportation. Clugston invested significantly in a fleet of tankers earlier this year.

The group has been recruiting for its property development business and is actively looking for sites to add to its land bank.

Mr Martin said: “We want to expand on that. With the recession, values have come down quite considerably and more opportunities are coming up for companies that have got money and skilled people.”

The group has a joint venture with Leeds-based Wilton Developments to build a £22.5m distribution facility for Nissan supplier Vantec at Turbine Business Park in Sunderland’s enterprise zone.

Clugston owns land around the site and is considering further developments. It also owns land in Yorkshire and Lincolnshire.

In spite of the growth opportunities, the wider construction industry remains tough following the collapse of investor confidence.

Mr Martin said increased Government investment in infrastructure and capital projects could help the UK economy.

“Construction creates training opportunities, increases employment and creates tax revenue for the Government,” he added.

“We firmly believe investment in infrastructure and capital projects is a good way to return value to the economy and create value.”

Whatever ministers decide to do, the cash-rich group can afford to take a long-term view.

£85,000 raised for charity

THE history of the Clugston Group can be traced all the way back to 1895 when JG Clugston founded a builders’ merchant in Scunthorpe.

To commemorate the 75th anniversary of the subsequent group’s incorporation, employees nominated 10 charities and set about various fundraising activities with the support of customers, suppliers and directors.

As of yesterday they had raised £85,123.52 towards The Lighthouse Club Benevolent Fund, Lindsey Lodge Hospice, The National Autistic Society, The Prince’s Trust, The Samaritans, The Weston Park Hospital Development Fund, The Woodland Trust, Young Enterprise Trust, Gifted and the Trussell Trust.