Transport infrastructure, and building and construction products group, Hill & Smith Holdings has won a share in a contract worth £184.5m, the largest of its type ever awarded by the UK Highways Agency. The contract, to supply and install the latest motorway and trunk road variable message signs across the country, has been won by Hill & Smith subsidiary, Techspan Systems, a leading specialist supplier of electronic information display systems.
Alongside two other companies, Techspan will be working over a four year period to supply, install and maintain variable message signs and motorway signals throughout England. The signs will appear as large or small LED matrix boards on cantilever structures at the roadside or as overhead lane signals. Many of the signs will be on busy motorways near major cities.
Derek Muir, managing director of Hill & Smith’s infrastructure products group, said: “This win is a major vindication for our policy of focusing on the growing and developing transport infrastructure market. It’s also a reward for building our business through a combination of carefully selected acquisitions and an extensive programme of capital investment and product innovation. In the case of the Highways Agency contract, we are already using our skills in product development and innovation to provide prototypes that we believe will meet the customers’ needs going forward.”
Techspan produces the type of signs that warn drivers of congestion and hazards such as fog and this contract will see signs installed on inter-urban routes and major trunk roads. Hill & Smith acquired the business in 2005, in a deal worth £0.9m, as part of its strategy of making targeted acquisitions within its technology division. The variable message sign business was subsequently complemented by another acquisition, this time of traffic recording and speed warning sign maker Counters and Accessories Limited.
Darren Smith, Techspan’s commercial director, said: “Details of the Highways Agency contract, which we have been working on for many months, were published across Europe and the selection process was rigorous with bids being judged on the quality of the products even more than price. We have proved that Techspan can compete on the international stage and this contract will bring many benefits apart from the promise of the revenue that is likely to result. It will almost certainly open further doors for us to international markets, help us to reinforce our emphasis on innovation and product development and it is likely to lead to more jobs being created too.”
The two other companies participating in the Highways Agency’s contract include two of Techspan’s European competitors, Variable Message Signs Ltd and the French-owned Colas Ltd. The exact proportion of the total contract that each will have has yet to be determined.