Ground Control buys UPM units

UPM Tilhill offloads landscape and arboriculture divisions as part of strategy to focus on forestry.

UPM Tilhill has sold its landscape and arboriculture businesses to commercial landscaping contractor Ground Control.

The sale followed a strategic review at UPM, which will now focus on the forestry and wood-sourcing business that has made the company a major player in timber and paper.

UPM managing director Steve Lavery refused to disclose the selling price of the divisions, in which 160 staff will be transferred to Ground Control, but said the buyer was the "ideal company to take the businesses forward".

Ground Control chief executive Simon Morrish said the landscape and arboriculture divisions had a turnover of £25m and would take his company's turnover to £70m. He said it was too early to say whether there would be job losses.

UPM Tilhill has had recent success at the BALI National Landscape Awards. Prize-winning work has included projects at Barrow-In-Furness waterfront and at Chiswick House & Gardens in London.

Morrish said: "We will integrate as much as possible within Ground Control on a national spread. The landscaping section is a perfect fit with our core business, while the arboriculture side does rail and powerlines work, which we wanted to get into."

Ground Control launched as a grounds maintenance specialist nearly 40 years ago. It has since diversified into commercial landscaping and works for big names such as Tesco and B&Q.

UPM Tilhill's rise

UPM, established more than 60 years ago, has turnover in excess of £100m and is one of the world's leading forest industry groups.

The company has production facilities in 14 countries and 24,000 staff. Sales in 2008 were £7.4bn.

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