HB Fuller Commercial Development Planning

Listed American Industrial Adhesives manufacturer, HB Fuller, (HBF) acquired Datac Adhesives Ltd in the early 1990’s.  HBF saw the acquisition as a platform to expand their UK and European operations from a base in Dukinfield Greater Manchester. The site is compact, its size and the complex, highly dangerous processes used initially appeared to limit their aim of future development and increased production.

HB Fuller also inherited by acquisition, a number of satellite plants throughout the UK. Some of these sites, buildings, plant and operations were dated and inefficient

Millson has provided strategic property advice to Datac / HBF since 1981, including master-planning, development appraisals, land and property acquisition.

Following the take over by HBF, we completed a detailed review and prepared both a strategy and master-plan for future development. This included an acquisition strategy and rationalisation of their buildings and property holdings. The review included a full analysis of warehousing costs and utilisation, production flow through the factory, loading and unloading methods, warehousing and distribution with fully costed Options Appraisals.

These appraisals demonstrated how the company could improve efficiency, reduce costs and long-term financial liabilities by restructuring their property holdings and by implementing operational improvements.

The proposals devised and presented were implemented. Millson managed the design and development of a new European HQ and distribution centre, which included product development and testing laboratories in a building designed to be both tax efficient and highly flexible for alternative future uses. Millson advised on the disposal of a number of freehold and leasehold properties, having first established alternative use options.

In 1981, Millson advised Datac to acquire the plots of land adjacent to their expanding manufacturing plant. Unfortunately, they did not, and expansion was compromised by a lack of land to expand onto. To maximize the potential of the site, Millson helped devise vehicle movement and production methods which ensured that every cubic metre of land and building was used efficiently. Millson devised multi-level production lines and introduced high bay automated warehousing. As capital expenditure was limited, moveable office cabins were leased which were tax efficient and provided flexibility until capital was available.

Under HBF, manufacturing and product development was spread across a number of sites which lead to low staff morale, quality control issues and duplication of staff and resources.  High transport costs and staff numbers were reduced substantially when the new  European HQ  building and distribution centre was completed and expensive leases and surplus properties disposed of.

This plan was successfully implemented over a ten year period and allowed HBF to expand production in the boom period. Now, the in-built flexibility devised has enabled the company to dispose of property, realise capital receipts and reduce operational costs without affecting their core manufacturing operation.

A good example of where our objective view worked is:

  • The Chairman commissioned Millson Associates to design and have constructed a 2000 square metre warehouse as the existing warehousing was full. The project was urgent as product was being stored off site at high rental, transport cost and inefficient use of staff.
  • Millson undertook a review of the existing warehousing and noted that whilst it was a high bay warehouse, product was only being stored up to 60% of the height of the building.
  • Millson questioned the logistics manager as to why this was so. He advised that the forklift trucks could only reach that height.
  • Millson checked the floor load capacity of the floor to ascertain that it would take a higher load.
  • Millson then discussed with the forklift manufacturers whether extendable booms could be added to the forklift truck models used.
  • Millson then advised the client that they didn’t need a new warehouse immediately they needed new booms for their forklift trucks.
  • Adapting the forklift trucks and adding higher racking cost five percent of the cost of the proposed warehouse extension and resulted in the new warehouse project being deferred for two years.