The Economics Of The Brick Cycle and Its Effects on Firm and Industry Structure

Home and Abstract Introduction Brick Demand UK House Construction

The Economics of Brick Production

Increasing Concentration of the Brick Industry II III IV V VI VII VIII IX

Conclusions Brick Industry Other Cyclical industries -Christmas trees

  Increasing Concentration of the Brick Industry II


Not only has inequality within the market increased, but the number of firms within the industry has also fallen. No statistics are available for the years before 1973. In 1938 however, the number of firms operating was probably around 700 1 and has since fallen to 86. The number in the industry has also decreased from 1,147 in 1938 to 243 in 1982. 2

CR5 figures for the whole industry disguise firstly increases in the size of the largest firm, the London Brick Company (LBC), from 24.1% in 1950 to 40% of the market and around 43% of capacity in 1982. Secondly, they do not show the marked increases in concentration that occurred within the fletton industry, where LBC increased its share from 70.1% to 100% between 1950 and 1982. The growth of LBC occurred through a long series of mergers and acquisitions within the fletton industry. In 1983, LBC attempted to diverge into non-fletton bricks by launching a take-over bid for Ibstock Johnsen, a firm controlling 19.6% of the non-fletton market. However, after referral to the M & MC, who granted permission for the take-over, Ibstock’s share price had risen substantially and the take-over did not occur. Later in 1983, LBC itself was taken over by Hanson Trust PLC, a larger holding company which already owned Butterley Building Products Ltd, the fourth largest firm in the industry. This had a market share of 6%.

This merger increased the size inequality within the top 5 (now 4) groupings giving the largest group a market share of 46% and at least a 50% share of capacity. 3 It also meant that of the top 5 companies involved in brick making, 4 were now part of major industrial concerns. The company’s market shares, and their ultimate owners are given below: -

  • The number of firms producing “Chesham Multies” was 28 in 1939 and 3 in 1984. Source; Gazetteer of Buckinghamshire Brickyards 1800-1980. Bucks. County Museum, 1980.
  • M & MC. Building Bricks. 1976, P. 11 and DOE, Building & Construction Stats. 1972-1982.
  • M & MC. Ibstock & LBC-A Report on the Proposed Merger. 1976. P.9.

London Brick Products, 40% - Hansen Trust PLC.

Ibstock Johnsen Products Ltd, 7.9% - Ibstock Johnsen PLC.

Redland Bricks Ltd, 6.5% - Redland PLC.

Butterley Building Products Ltd, 5.7% - Harson Trust PLC.

Steetly Brick Ltd, 4.9% - Steetly PLC.

The other brick manufacturers of significant size (producing 100 million to 50 million bricks per year) were:

Westbrick Ltd – C.H. Beezer (Holdings) Ltd

Scottish Brick Co. Ltd – N.C.B. and Aurora Holdings PLC.

Bowater Crossley Bricks Ltd – Bowater Corporation PLC.

J & A Jackson – Christian Salvesen PLC.

Nottingham Brick PLC.

Source: M & MC. 1983.



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