On 30 June Nurture completed its acquisition of Truegrit, a winter gritting and snow-clearance company servicing 967 sites across the UK, as well as Heritage Landscapes, which has 81 gritting sites. The move raises 2016 turnover to a forecast £27m. Both firms will trade under the Nurture brand, with all existing and future landscape maintenance clients being offered a gritting service.
Nurture's move doubles the size of its gritting operation (HW, 24 June) to more than £5m per annum across nearly 2,000 sites, accounting for around 20 per cent of total turnover. The increased focus on gritting is a "natural progression" because contracts increasingly go to tender as a package, Fane explained. He pointed to the recent move by Gritit, a major gritting company, to expand into landscape maintenance as being driven by the same impulse.
"So many contracts go out as a package," he said. "If you're doing purely landscape maintenance or purely gritting, you'll miss out one way or the other. Single-service gritting companies like Gritit and others in the marketplace will probably struggle over time. It's similar to the landscape maintenance side - gritting is all about density. If we're going out at night in Manchester on six sites it might as well be 15 because that's more profitable and easier to manage because it's higher-density."
The move is already set to bring Nurture more landscape clients. All Truegrit's clients have been contacted and around 10 per cent have asked for Nurture to price a landscape maintenance service for them as well. Nurture's gritting operations are now "properly national", added Fane - "from the north of Scotland to the South West".
All the sites will use Truegrit's "Frosty" database, which Fane believes is similar to that of Gritit. "Anybody with any volume has a proper system and database behind it, so they are reacting to call-outs, informing clients they have real live reporting on site so that when visits are done clients can see those visits.
All that technology we had already set up for the landscape maintenance side ... and that is very transferable."
Fane added that he believes the challenge for Gritit moving into landscape maintenance will be much harder than moving from landscape into gritting. Some of the gritting will be delivered by landscape-trained staff, while seasonal staff may supplement gritting operations in some areas.