Strood, Rochester-based R Swain & Sons has delivered a boost to its special projects division with the acquisition of specialist plant and services firm Gatwick Plant.

Based in Horley, Surrey, Gatwick Plant runs a 12-strong fleet of specialist vehicles including low loaders, rear-steer trailers, crane-equipped vehicles and abnormal load escorting vehicles. The family-owned firm, which serves the construction, airport and rail sectors and employs 30 staff, was acquired on 1 October for an undisclosed sum and will operate as a standalone business under the guidance of director of special projects, Matthew Swain.

The purchase includes Gatwick Plant’s main 1.5-acre site at Horley, close to Gatwick Airport, and a leased warehouse in Crawley.

Swain Group MD Paul Kavanagh declined to specify Gatwick Plant’s current turnover or profit but said it was “a good, well-run business with a turnover and size that is meaningful to us”.

“It adds some diversification for us within the specialist sector with a different customer base,” he continued.

The move, which follows the acquisition in spring last year of Hatfield based Hallett Silbermann, was announced shortly after R Swain & Sons revealed a near-30% rise in pre-tax profit for the year ending 31 December 2014.


Turnover in the year rose 4.57%, from £34.8m to £36.4m; while pre-tax profit rose 28.3% from £1.34m to £1.72m, leaving the firm with a 4.7% profit margin.

Kavanagh told the boost in profitability was down to a number of operational efficiencies during the year including better driver retention and less use of agency staff, a number of one-off projects that had allowed for better fleet utilisation, better seasonal planning, and the dropping of some lower-paying general work.

Kavanagh stopped short of predicting another 28% rise in profit in the current financial year but said it was going well.

“We’re optimistic on this year,” he confirmed. “The weather was kind to us at the beginning of the year, we’ve had some good seasonal planning so far and we’re planning well going into the peak quarter now. We’ve also had some good one-off projects again this year allowing better fleet utilisation and our staff retention again this year has held up. It’s been a good year for us.”