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GRS forms sustainable materials partnership with Ocean

05 October 2023

Construction aggregates trading group GRS* has acquired 50% of Devon-based secondary materials producer Ocean Blocks and Aggregates Ltd.

The deal strengthens GRS’s ability to serve the construction industry in the South West and boosts the firm’s capacity to supply sustainable secondary aggregates into the South East using its established rail and marine freight network to achieve the lowest carbon footprint.

The transaction also opens up new local markets for Ocean which has access to millions of tonnes of granite arising as a by-product of Imerys' china clay mining operation at Lee Moor near Plymouth. Ocean has a new on-site processing plant that washes and grades the material to produce high quality bagged aggregates for the building trade as well as using the product to make concrete blocks for housebuilders in the area.

Ocean’s directors Andrew Lakeman, son Edward and Leigh Genge will remain on the Board along with directors from GRS. Under the new partnership Ocean will work closely with the teams at Maen Karne and GRS to supply the material locally and nationally.

Jon Fisher, Chief Executive of GRS, said: “Our new partnership with Ocean is a great addition to our portfolio. It gives us a complementary presence in Devon and Cornwall and opens up opportunities to supply premium secondary aggregates to housing and infrastructure projects across the country, easing the pressure on primary aggregates. Better still, GRS shares the same ethos as Ocean and we are looking forward to working with the founders and the whole team to support their growth as an independent business, both locally and nationally.”

Leigh Genge said: “We have worked alongside GRS for a number of years and they are a great fit for our business. GRS already has established supply chain networks to efficiently transport our secondary aggregates from Lee Moor to major construction markets. Coming together also means we can continue to grow our business with the agility and entrepreneurial spirit of an independent operator. We’re looking forward to promoting the use of high quality materials that would otherwise be a waste product to make the most of the country’s natural resources and reduce net carbon emissions.”

Through its South West subsidiary Maen Karne, GRS already makes good use of secondary aggregates from the china clay industry to supply the region’s construction industry. And last year GRS became the first to move material by sea into Tilbury Docks for processing and onward distribution to meet the demand for materials London.

Known for its quality and consistency, granite from china clay mining (often referred to as ‘stent’) is highly rated by leading sustainability assessment methods as an alternative to primary aggregates. Transporting it into London and the South East by rail and sea freight means it generates a fraction of the carbon of newly quarried stone.

Britain’s construction industry uses around 250 million tonnes of aggregates each year but less than 5% of that currently comes from secondary sources so GRS sees huge growth potential for the material.

The partnership with Ocean represents the first significant investment for GRS since the firm completed a £60 million refinancing deal with Wells Fargo Capital Finance in April 2023.