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M&J joins Charles Wilson’s expansion drive

Charles Wilson Engineers has acquired M&J Hire Centres, creating an impressive construction plant and tool rental organisation with over 30 trading locations, more than 400 staff and over £200m in equipment assets. Bringing the two companies under a single banner will deliver increased levels of service and equipment supply to customers, while offering numerous synergies in technology and management of operations for the business.

“We will be pushing towards £90m in year one and the target will be more than £100m in revenues in year two,” said Chief Executive David Gallagher.

Charles Wilson, through its CW Plant Hire, CW Instant Hire, CW Instant Power and CW Access Hire divisions, continues to expand, with the recent acquisition of a second site in Nottingham doubling the firm’s capacity in the city. Further growth is already planned across the country.

“We have recently expanded the size of our depot in Nottingham, and I’ve got several acquisition targets on the horizon,” said Mr Gallagher.

“By bringing together Charles Wilson with M&J Hire Centres, this will give us the opportunity, through the mix and size of the depots, to reconfigure our fleet to better serve our customers, with different products available from various locations. We have ongoing plans to invest around £50m a year over the next three years on plant and machinery.”

This varied distribution policy has already proven successful for the company, with CW’s Birmingham depot specialising in generator and access platform hire, while the focus in Nottingham is on site dumpers, excavators and mini excavators.

“Any depot can take an order from any location. We will say yes to the customer and then organise the equipment,” said Mr Gallagher. “We want to provide a local service, on a national basis.”

Indeed, service and aftercare are key to the future success of the business and CW is keen to continue to build its field service offering, as the two companies come together. The management team recognises that its people are among its most important assets and the company is determined to retain the long service expertise and experience that is present in both businesses going forwards. With continued expansion very much a focus of the future, it is also keen to see further growth in the company’s apprenticeship programme, which this year aims to take on a record number of apprentices and trainees.

“The culture and dedication of our staff is incredible and we are looking to attract more young people into the business,” said Mr Gallagher.

Charles Wilson Engineers was formed in 1979 in Harpenden, Hertfordshire, by Charles Gallagher and David Wilson. M&J Hire also started trading in Herts, in 1955, with the involvement of the Gallagher family. As the two companies developed, M&J formed a close cooperation with the family-owned Irish house builder Abbey Homes, while Charles Wilson was more closely associated with Matthew Homes in England.

With both of these house building businesses now back under family ownership, the time is seen as right to bring together CW Plant Hire and M&J Hire Centres, to realise the many potential savings within these two successful plant and tool businesses and to push ahead with further expansion plans.

“We have one of the largest telescopic handler fleets in the country and have recently been building the number of Roto machines. We will continue to expand the fleet in many equipment sectors, to meet the rapidly changing needs of our customers.”

This customer focus extends to their machine operators, with Charles Wilson Engineers running a training centre for forklift, telehandler and aerial work platform operators at its Hayes depot to the West of London. “We will be looking at the possibility of additional training centres around the country as we continue to expand,” said Mr Gallagher.