Open for Business
WCL Quarries expand their operations across the Midlands
Established in 2006, WCL Quarries have rapidly become one of the most prominent names in the construction products and recycling markets in the Midlands region. The company is renowned for supplying a wide variety of products ranging from aggregates, including 10mm/20mm gravel and Type 1 MOT, to recycled and decorative/landscaping products, such as road planings, concrete fines and green chippings.
Despite the economic crisis and slowdown in the UK construction market, business has been booming for WCL Quarries and, as with most aggregate suppliers, the company has weathered the recession by understanding and directly responding to the trends affecting supply and demand in the construction products marketplace.
According to Simon Winner, managing director of WCL Quarries, one of the key contributing factors to the success of the company is its ability to provide customers with a ‘one-stop shop’ of products from a single location, together with the subsequent logistical savings.
‘Expanding the product line and offering our customers a one-stop purchasing experience by providing them with a comprehensive supply of sand, recycled and quarried aggregates has been a very important ongoing focus for us,’ he explained. ‘The decision to diversify the business has been key, as it has given us the flexibility to cater for, and respond to, local market needs. These products are stocked for collection from our Cranebrook and Ketley quarries and they can be delivered in small vehicles for ease of access, or collected from the sites without queuing.’
This business strategy has helped WCL Quarries develop further opportunities and reach new markets through a diverse range of activities. With many of its customers now operating in a more sustainable manner, the operator has seen a huge demand for recycled aggregates and waste-management services.
‘Sustainability has changed the outlook for many of our customers and recycling itself has become a significant growth area for the business,’ said Mr Winner. ‘As a leading independent supplier in the Midlands, we understand the importance of providing quality products. Our recycled aggregates are, therefore, produced within the guidelines set out by WRAP’s Quality Protocol. We also operate under a strict quality-control regime to ensure our production sites meet ISO 9001:2008 and other quality management certification schemes.’
Diversifying their operations and focusing on the recycled products market have clearly paid dividends for WCL Quarries. In addition to Cranebrook (in Lichfield) and Ketley (Kingswinford) quarries, the company has decided to expand its business operation and recently acquired the working lease for Griff Quarry, a 96-acre site in Nuneaton, Warwickshire.
Due to come on stream this summer, the new Griff site will further expand WCL Quarries’ presence across the Midlands and, more importantly, strengthen their position as a leading independent supplier of aggregates in the region.
There have been quarrying activities at Griff for many years, previously with Midland Quarry Products and Hanson. Producing around 200,000 tonnes of dry stone and 60,000 tonnes of coated materials per annum, the site is strategically located to serve both the local market and customers further afield, thanks to easy access to the M1, M6 and M69 motorway networks.
There are an estimated 7 million cubic metres of void space at Griff Quarry (planning permission subject to approval from the EA) and the on-site working methodology will be the same as Cranebrook and Ketley.
‘With this new site, we will use the same formula as we have done with our existing quarrying operations; replicating and scaling it up to work with the capacity at Griff Quarry,’ explained Mr Winner. ‘We are also committed to the long-term restoration of the quarry, ensuring the local community benefits from nature conservation and habitat biodiversity across the site.’
Griff will act as a major platform for the company’s continued growth and success. As the latest addition to WCL Quarries’ growing portfolio of Midlands-based quarries, the operator will be producing in excess of 1 million tonnes per annum spread over three sites.
WCL Quarries’ success story is a testimony to the fact that some smaller UK quarry firms are holding up well despite the economic downturn. The slowdown in construction activity and the aggregates market downfall are ongoing challenges facing the quarrying industry, but there is clearly a way forward for independent suppliers who understand how the market is changing and are willing to change with it – as the economy, hopefully, recovers.