In September 2013 the majority shareholding in the TRAD Group was acquired by the ALTRAD Group. Three years down the line and the company has enjoyed considerable growth, as Des Moore, TRAD Group Managing Director, recently outlined to Construction Industry News.
When the TRAD Group was acquired, the three companies that it consisted of then being TRAD Hire and Sales Limited, TRAD Scaffolding and TRAD Safety Systems, had a combined revenue of £49m. This current financial year it is approaching approximately £85m, and FY 16/17 a budget of £100m.
“Focusing on TRAD Hire and Sales Limited – which sells, hires and exports all scaffolding products – the biggest development in that business within the last two years in the main has been the introduction of our Plettac METRIX Scaffolding System, which is the first real alternative to Layher,” says Des Moore. “More recently we have also introduced the ALTRIX roof, which not only compliments the Plettac METRIX itself but is also a Temporary roof that can be used on other Scaffolding systems, as well as tube and fitting. Both products are available for both sale and hire.
“In terms of benefits of Plettac METRIX, the overall offering compared to other competitors in the market is superior because it’s much quicker to erect and dismantle. It’s actually been developed primarily from the ring system product to one that is now class leading. As well as being available for sale it can also be hired, with TRAD Hire and Sales having all the design support, product support and in-house expertise in terms of knowledge sharing and improvements of the system going forward. Also essentially it has an advanced guardrail that is unique to that system, which in itself makes it very quick and safe to erect and dismantle.”
In a climate where speed and safety is absolutely paramount within the construction sector currently, the strengths of the system are in more demand than ever before. “It certainly ticks all the boxes,” adds Des Moore. “Demand has been extremely strong and we’ve recently secured a sale and hire agreement of Plettac METRIX to a very large industrial group.”
In addition to the success that TRAD Hire and Sales has seen, the TRAD Scaffolding business has expanded significantly since the acquisition three years ago. “We have created a new division that has just moved into new premises in West London. This side of the group has started to use the Plettac METRIX system as well. We also recently hosted a seminar for our clients, where we discussed the new SG4:15 guidance and outlined how we will not only meet these standards, but seek to exceed them wherever possible.”
The third and final element of the triumvirate of companies that make up the TRAD Group, TRAD Safety Systems, has not been left out in the growth stakes either. “Since ALTRAD’s involvement began, TRAD Safety Systems has opened up two more depots bringing the total number up to six with the last one opening recently in Bristol. This side of the business is actually the smallest of the three companies within the TRAD Group but in terms of percentage growth it has the greatest potential for further expansion moving forward, particularly as it’s introducing new products almost every month. It has tremendous momentum that is continuing to gain traction.
“The scaffolding business was formed as a limited company in 1971 and our existing chairman, Hayden Smith, felt it was time for him to sell his majority shareholding, make preparations for retirement, and give another Group the opportunity to take the baton on and further develop the business. The ALTRAD Group have certainly stepped up to the plate and their influence and investment has had a hugely positive impact on all three companies within the group.”
“Even in the depths of the recession the TRAD Group remained a very strong business and ALTRAD’s involvement and their subsequent investment enabled us to become even stronger. It has to be said that while there was no management charter similar to the one that exists within the ALTRAD Group itself, we found it to be quite a reasonably comfortable fit.”
Des Moore, Group Managing Director
Despite the impressive growth that all three areas of the TRAD Group has seen since the ALTRAD acquisition, there were some employee worries within the business initially, which is always to be expected when a business undergoes a major change in ownership.
“The ALTRAD Group have their own management charter so they are structured in a very different way, which did take us a while to become accustomed to. However, the additional controls, as well as the investment they’ve put in, has actually made the group far stronger and more profitable today. The implementation of that investment and the input from the holding department in Montpellier, particularly with the support of Mohed Altrad and Group Managing Director, Louis Heutz has been hugely important.”
With the strong progress that has been made in the past three years since the acquisition by ALTRAD, the aim now is to continue building on this growth in the coming years. “The main aim is to introduce new and class leading products, particularly through TRAD Safety Systems and TRAD Hire and Sales. We will also introduce them into our own scaffolding business where appropriate, so that our clients in general contracting and scaffolding companies are receiving the benefit of those improvements too. We’re going for gradual organic growth and improved profitability over the next year.
“Looking at the areas of opportunity at the moment, obviously the market sectors for each of our individual companies are somewhat different. The Hire and Sales business, which is the biggest of the three, will see the introduction of other products that will enable our clients within our own sales business to work more productively and improve their margins. The Plettac METRIX and ALTRIX roof systems will have a major impact in this regard, although they’ve got a long way to go yet. We’re only scratching the surface of what’s possible in the market presently.
“In terms of TRAD Scaffolding, again we’re looking to develop this business further by offering the same level of service that we’ve always provided but with improved efficiencies. We are also looking to become much more involved in the airport sector, particularly at Heathrow and Gatwick, and also the rail sector – both rail and London Underground – which is the primary purpose of our newly created West London division. However, as per our original business model, TRAD Scaffolding’s activities will remain primarily within the M25.
“As for TRAD Safety Systems, its main primary product presently is the TRAD Deck system, which is a product unique to ourselves that is used primarily in the house building sector. We’ve just introduced the TRADGuard Mesh Barrier System and a Safety Net Fan, similar but better than products currently on the market. Certainly it is our intention to expand our activities in the construction sector in general with those products and others that we are currently developing.”
The beauty of the TRAD Group is that it has a nice spread of growing businesses across a number of different sectors. “The hire and sales business is primarily serving other scaffolding companies including some large industrial groups, while the contracting business is primarily focused on large contractors within London and the South in general,” says Des Moore, and to reiterate, “We’ve got no plans to broaden the horizons of the contracting business as it has always worked in London and the South and we’ve no intention of doing anything different in the future. In contrast the objective for the TRAD Safety Systems business is to bring our London, Birmingham and Bristol depots up to their fullest potential over the coming years.
“Even in the depths of the recession the TRAD Group remained a very strong business and ALTRAD’s involvement and their subsequent investment enabled us to become even stronger. It has to be said that while there was no management charter similar to the one that exists within the ALTRAD Group itself, we found it to be quite a reasonably comfortable fit. Many of the ideals that actually exist and are installed in the charter are ones that have been at the heart of our primary values over the last 40-plus years. It was perhaps in a less sophisticated form but they were there nevertheless. ALTRAD invested in a very good business and their investment and their management has enabled us to be able to make it an even stronger and more profitable business than it was before. We’ve got various events and open days planned for the remainder of this year to showcase our products. These will be ongoing and will take place at our individual depots, in addition to getting involved in NASC seminars regarding scaffolding safety.”
With ALTRAD’s investment continuing to prove to be a positive force for the TRAD Group across its entire operation, it is clear that each of its three businesses can look forward to further growth and development in the coming months.