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Suffolk: New owner and new name as SEH becomes One Group Construction

12:00 28 May 2014

Graham Emmerson and Richard Neall with other directors of businesses making up One Group Construction, formerly known as SEH Group.

Graham Emmerson and Richard Neall with other directors of businesses making up One Group Construction, formerly known as SEH Group.

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Suffolk-based construction group SEH has undergone a change of ownership and a change of name, with founder Graham Emmerson taking a back seat after 43 years at the helm.

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SEH has been acquired by a new company, One Group Construction, which is led by Richard Neall, already group chief executive of SEH.

The group, which ranks as one of the largest privately owned construction groups in the UK, employs around 500 people and has annual turnover of more than £100m.

Having been founded in 1971 by Mr Emmerson, it has grown through a combination businesses started from stratch and strategic acquisitions, most notably that of Jackson Civil Engineering in 2004.

Today, it consists of 12 separate businesses offering a variety of construction services, with its brands including Jackson Civil Engineering SEH Developments, Emmitt Plant SEHBAC, SEH French Construction A&B Asset, SEH Civil Engineering Fineline, SEH Asphalt Banaglaze and SEH Commercial JacksonHyder.

Mr Emmerson, who retains a non-equity long-term investment in One Group Construction, said: “It was very important to my family that the group remained privately owned. Whilst a business of our size must be highly organised, we have proven it doesn’t have to be overly corporate or political. We were very keen to keep it that way.

To the general public, One Group Construction is probably best known for its windows, doors and conservatories retail business, SEHBAC, although this only represents a small proportion of what it does.

Mr Neall said: “As well as home improvements, we cover large and medium scale civil engineering projects, property development, commercial and residential building, construction equipment hire, infrastructure surfacing, commercial glazing, energy solutions, house building, ground works and everything in between.

“To give you an idea, our large scale civil engineering firm Jackson regularly works on nationally significant construction projects, such as the Olympics, major flood protection schemes for the Environment Agency, as well as working on the UK busiest motorway, the M25.

“On a more local scale, our building construction company SEH French is currently building a new sixth-form centre at Framlingham College, which is due to open in September, whilst Emmitt Plant hired out over 10,000 individual pieces of equipment last year.”

Although the past few years have been difficult for the construction industry, there is now growing confidence that the sector is starting to turn a corner. In February 2014, construction activity in the UK grew at its fastest rate since August 2007, with near-record growth in the house building and civil engineering sectors.

Mr Neall added: “As a business we’re in a really good place. We are financially strong and the market is showing real life. All political parties are now acknowledging the importance of committing funds to infrastructure improvements and the private sector is also rapidly gaining the confidence to invest. It’s never easy in construction, but the signs are very positive at the moment”.

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