Grounds maintenance sector proves success for Fountains

Contract wins put service company back in black

By Rachel Sixsmith Fountains’ ballooning grounds maintenance division has helped put the company back on track, its new chief Richard Haddon has said. A year ago the support-service company mainly focused on its rail track work, such as removing trees from the lines, and was losing money. But Haddon has told Horticulture Week that a host of multi-million-pound grounds maintenance contracts gained last year have quickly boosted profits. Haddon, who joined Fountains last year, said: “A year ago we were losing millions. We had some terrible contracts because the customers and the dynamics of the market changed — and we didn’t change with them. It really opened our eyes. We realised that we needed to offer a broader service. We always focused on quality — we just weren’t making money out of it.” The company realised that its clients preferred contracts that included a range of services, from on-the-spot cleaning to tree cutting and grounds maintenance. Haddon said: “Our operations had to start mirroring what our customers want, which is to have control.” In the two years since it changed its approach to cover a broader range of services, Fountains’ grounds maintenance division has grown from its smallest to its largest sector. Long-term contracts have taken its value to £16m — compared with the £10m rail division.

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