Expert for Cement & Aggregates

Andy Simpson

Packed Products Director


Heidelberg Materials

Heidelberg Materials is one of the leading global producers of lower carbon construction materials. The business produces aggregates (crushed rock, sand and gravel), ready-mixed concrete, asphalt, cement and cement related materials.

Heidelberg Materials UK is split into five business lines – aggregates, concrete, asphalt and contracting, cement and recycling – which together operate around 300 manufacturing sites and employ over 4,000 people.

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Heidelberg Materials Comment: Q4 2023

It was a subdued end of the year for the Cement and Aggregates market, as mild but wet conditions left sales quieter than expected in Q4 and for 2023 as a whole.

The continued slowdown in construction was evident in the latest sales figures from the Mineral Products Association. Volumes for mortar (-21.9%) and sand and gravel (-10.6%) dropped sharply in Q4 2023 compared to Q4 in 2022, while ready-mixed concrete (-8.2%), crushed rock (-3.7%) and asphalt (-3.5%) also saw decreases. Comparing all sales for 2023 to the previous 12 months, there was a second consecutive annual decline across all product categories, except mortar.

Looking at the numbers and speaking to customers, it’s going to be a tough start to the year but we remain positive about 2024’s prospects. Things will even out and we are operating ‘business as usual’ to prepare for the upswing in demand which will come – it’s just a matter of when.

For example, in this general election year, we could see a change in government in May or the Autumn and more positive policies for new housing and social housing. Infrastructure investment would be particularly welcome for the country’s water and flood defences which were overwhelmed by the recent storms.

While we wait for positive developments in policy, inflation and the cost of living crisis to kickstart construction, we are focusing on getting ourselves in better shape for the future. Following our rebrand in October 2023, we’ll be introducing new branded stock in Q1 as old Hanson stock runs down. This will happen product by product, location by location. We’ll also be releasing end-user info about the new Heidelberg Materials brand early this year.

We’ve just appointed a managing director to lead our circular economy and recycling business to drive our agenda in this area, and we’ll be starting our carbon capture trial at Ketton cement works. We are also implementing new digital technologies to improve operational efficiencies and customer service this year.

When trading conditions are tough, the only thing you can control is your own destiny and that’s what we will be doing until the bounce back comes.