PHPD catches up with Michelmersh’s Marketing Director, Sarah Le Gresley to discuss the group’s renewed offering to UK developers, having just acquired Belgian brickmaker Floren.
Can you tell us about Floren, Michelmersh’s latest acquisition?
Floren.be is a well-known brand of 125 years built upon strong ethical family values. Located in Sint-Lenaarts, Belgium, Floren has been producing high-quality extruded bricks since 1896. Throughout the years, it has been modernised extensively, meeting the most stringent environmental and production requirements.
What can the Belgian company offer to the UK?
With a highly efficient plant such as Floren, boasting renewable energy production from its solar installation and sole water use from rainwater harvesting methods coupled with its land preservation and biodiversity focus, Floren shares the Group’s sustainability focused ethos, making a perfect match. Floren specialises in beautiful, bespoke, contemporary products in demand from both the Benelux and UK market. Its access and position also mean it is in a fantastic location for efficient distribution.
As a large corporation, does Michelmersh plan to retain the family-run structure and values of Floren?
As the last remaining brick plant in Brecht, Michelmersh made it an immediate priority to retain Floren’s underlying brand characteristics whilst upgrading its profile to sit comfortably within our Group offering. Learning from the family who have created a profile that is recognised by architects, housebuilders, and customers across Europe, has always been an important goal for the acquisition transition and has enabled the Group to retain these core values whilst elevating its status to now have a voice amongst our wider audience.
What do you see in the future of bricks in Britain?
Clay bricks boast longevity with a typical lifespan of over 150 years. With brilliant versatility and adaptability, it is a product that will benefit many generations whilst being recyclable to reuse at the end of the building life. Because of its resilience, non-toxic raw materials, high thermal performance, non-combustible and durable characteristics, it is clear to see why the market for brick will continue to grow in the UK.
With advancements in hydrogen and other renewable technologies enabling the reduction in embodied carbon and little to no operational carbon of clay brick, the industry can boast excellent data and control over the provenance of its raw materials, with minimal distribution. It is important for sustainability that we encourage local products for local markets, and it is therefore clear to see that clay brick will continue to be a truly sustainable choice for specifiers in both the UK and Europe.
What is the main advantage to Michelmersh of acquiring Floren?
Floren benefits from both the core markets of Belgium and the UK, offering a beautiful product range in demand for its bespoke high-quality finishes. With 120 acres of land boasting vast pure Campine clay reserves and its already established drive in Sustainability and stringent European standards, it was a clear decision for the board of the Michelmersh Group.