Purchase of Fusion for less than £1m will allow Hill to supply up to 1,250 apartment units a year

Housebuilder Hill has paid less than a million pounds to buy the assets of £11m turnover offsite manufacturer known as Fusion, in a deal completed after the business was put into liquidation.

The purchase will see the firm take on the Northampton factory and the majority of the staff of the light gauge steel frame fabricator, which will now be called Fusion Steel Framing Limited, in a deal which will enable Hill to supply up to 1,250 apartment units a year.

Andy Hill Hill Group

Hill chief executive Andy Hill (pictured, left) told Housing Today the purchase will enable Hill to run a £30m offsite manufacturing business supplying both units for its own low-rise apartment blocks – of up to 6-7 stories – as well as for other developers.

Hill made the acquisition after the company running the Fusion factory, £11.3m turnover Salvesen Insulated Frames Ltd, got into financial difficulty in the wake of the covid crisis. The firm said in its last published accounts, to May 31 2020, that “the impact of coronavirus has been very significant on the business”, and that “all of our key market areas have been affected”. It eventually appointed a voluntary liquidator on May 10, according to Companies House, with Hill buying the business afterwards following due diligence and a competitive sale process.

Andy Hill said that while Fusion had the capacity to produce 1,250 units a year from a single shift at the 80,000 sq ft facility, which is close to half Hill’s output, he didn’t intend for the business to supply any more than a third of Hill’s homes in any one year, with the rest of the units reserved for external customers.

>> See also: Growing pains or cause for concern? What recent financial failures mean for the modular market

>> See also: Do the right thing: Andy Hill’s strategy for building success

The Fusion system is a panelised system, which includes flooring options, which is assembled on site. Andy Hill said the technology would allow for significant time savings constructing apartment schemes, particularly in the current market, with long waits being experienced for delivery of pre-cast concrete floors.

“This year we’ve been waiting three to four weeks every time for pre-cast [concrete] floor, we lose a month per floor. It’s because of the manufacturing process, they always bump dates, it’s the same for everyone in the industry at the moment – it’s just so slow, you never get your dates, it just goes back, and you end up losing brick layers from sites quite often.

Fusion Factory Hill Group

Fusion’s 80,000 sq ft light gauge steel frame factory can produce 1,250 units a year

“It’s one of the main reasons we’ve invested to do this type of low rise apartment buildings ourselves.”

Hill’s purchase of Fusion supplements its existing ownership of another MMC business, Volumetric Modular, which produces temporary homes for the homeless as well as bathroom and utility pods.

Hill said the two systems will be adapted to integrate so that pods produced by Volumetric Modular will fit within apartment buildings constructed using the Fusion system. He said that the Fusion system produced a build cost that was cheaper than concrete frame buildings, and while it was more expensive than pre-cast concrete floor builds, this additional expense was wiped out when you factored savings from a quicker build time.

Hill added that the ability to deliver apartments using MMC would be a major benefit for many of Hill’s housing association customers, many of which are required to deliver 25% of new homes using offsite construction methods as a condition of grant.

He said: “This further strategic investment gives The Hill Group a competitive advantage in harnessing the potential of modern methods of construction, not only in developing creative new home-building options but also in terms of cost control, surety of supply and quality of finished product.”

Mike Fairey, managing director at Fusion Steel Framing said: “As a newly acquired part of Hill, we look forward to continuing our market-leading innovations in advanced structural light steel framing and delivery of high-quality manufacturing. This new chapter will see us delivering on a range of exciting projects in Hill’s pipeline while also enjoying the scope to service existing contracts and pursue new ones within the sector.”