Hull-based roofing materials distributor agrees deal for merchants

Pictured (l-r) - Jonathan Fisher and Daniel Hammond of Andrew Jackson Solicitors with Burton Roofing's managing director, Paul Hattee; Lee Hustwait, finance director; and Andrew Cowham, operations director
Pictured (l-r) - Jonathan Fisher and Daniel Hammond of Andrew Jackson Solicitors with Burton Roofing's managing director, Paul Hattee; Lee Hustwait, finance director; and Andrew Cowham, operations director
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A distributor of roofing materials based in Hull has acquired a fellow independent roofing merchant as it aims to become a truly national business.

Hull-based Burton Roofing Merchants has snapped up counterpart Brian Gow Roofing Warehouse for an undisclosed sum.

The move sees Burton add another three sites in Surrey, Kent and Southampton, increasing the total number of distribution centres it has to 13.

Paul Hattee, managing director of Burton Roofing, told The Yorkshire Post that the business had been looking out for acquisition opportunities for the past few years.

He said: “Part of our intention is to expand the business. This one was offered to us and we thought it would be a good fit.

“Over the last couple of years we’ve looked at a few businesses, which we’ve not progressed with, but this one we thought would fit well.”

Mr Hattee added that the reason why they believe Brian Gow to be a good fit is because the business already has a lean operation.

He said: “It’s spread over three depots and it only has 20 staff, which is fairly lean for that type of business.

“Whereas some of the others we’ve looked there was too many staff. It’s difficult to keep the costs down and make a reasonable profit, when you’ve got high staff numbers.”

Before the acquisition Hull-based Burton had 163 staff with 90 based at depots in Yorkshire.

However, as the business grows so will staff numbers, says the managing director of Burton.

“We’re keeping the staffing exactly as it is and our plan is to try and expand that business,” Mr Hattee said. “It’s currently doing around £5m in turnover and we would want to increase that and in turn that would mean employing more staff.”

The market for roofing products currently buoyant, says Mr Hattee, as the Government looks to push for more homes to be built and the rise of modular house building.

He said: “We’re involved now in two companies that are building houses in factories. They then transport their finished houses to sites.

“The reason behind that is because they just can’t seem to build houses quick enough. Whereas in factory conditions you don’t get any bad weather and it’s a semi-skilled trade as well.”

He added that the repair and restoration market is also buoyant currently, although the harsh weather in March did impact markets.

Mr Hattee said: “We had a bad March because of the weather. Obviously with roofing you can’t get up there or people won’t get up there when it’s rain, snow or frost.

“The biggest challenge is just the market. If the market is good then everybody is happy but when the market quietens down it becomes a lot tougher.”

While a lack of rain means that fewer householders are noticing roof leaks leading to less demand for repair works. “But it’s certainly allowed people to get on with new builds,” Mr Hattee said.

He added: “We’ve got to say that the Government is pushing to build more houses. We see more growth in the new housebuilding sector.”

Burton Roofing has depots reaching across the country including in Scotland. Having a wide reach helps, Mr Hattee says, as “you do get geographical trends”.

Yorkshire law firm Andrew Jackson Solicitors advised Burton Roofing on the acquisition, which will create an aggregate turnover of around £60m.

Corporate lawyer Daniel Hammond, who led the acquisition, said: “Burton Roofing continues to go from strength to strength, growing both organically and through strategic acquisition.

“We are delighted to see our clients build on their already strong customer base and extending their geographical reach.”

A Spanish link for firm that got its start on Stepney Lane in Hull

The business was established by the late Peter Burton, who opened his first yard on Stepney Lane in Hull in 1982.

He sold a majority stake to Spanish firm Cupa in 2008.

Paul Hattee, who has been with the company for 25 years, said: “Cupa is one of the biggest freight producers in the world and we were customers of theirs. Then Peter decided to sell and they bought it.”

The managing director does not believe Britain’s departure from the European Union will have an impact on the business.

He said: “We’re still bringing in a lot of slate from Northern Spain. We’ve had this conversation and we don’t see any real changes because of Brexit.”

Mr Burton passed away last year with Cupa acquiring the remaining balance of his shares.