Lafarge is a French company that entered the British Portland cement business with its acquisition of Blue Circle.
The company began as a private venture making hydraulic lime from the white argillaceous limestone of Le Teil in the Ardèche. Portland cement production began much later. The company went public as SA des chaux et ciments de Lafarge et du Teil in 1919. The company pioneered the production of aluminous cement, and in 1926 started up a plant for its manufacture in Britain on the north bank of the Thames, on a site between the Metropolitan and West Thurrock plants. It continues in operation today making specialised products.
The company grew by a process of international expansion analogous to that of Blue Circle, and was the world's second largest cement company before it took over Blue Circle in 2001. It acquired, in addition to some 30 plants world-wide, the following operational UK plants:
Five of these remain operational, and the company remains the UK's largest cement producer. By virtue of its prior acquisition of Redland, the company also produces aggregates and concrete. In 2011, a prospective joint venture with Tarmac (including the Tunstead plant) was announced. The Competition Commission have required the divestment of one cement plant. Hope was sold to ArcelorMittal on 16/11/2012, and along with a large group of aggregate and ready-mix plants became Hope Construction Materials on 7/1/2013. On the same date, the joint venture company name became Lafarge Tarmac, with the following five plants:
On 7th April 2014, a merger was announced between Lafarge and Holcim - its neck-and-neck rival. The combined company, LafargeHolcim, formally came into being on 15 July 2015. Major divestitures were needed to comply with competition regulations world-wide, and as a result, three of the five Lafarge Tarmac plants were transferred to CRH, leaving Cauldon and Cookstown in LafargeHolcim (see website), trading as Aggregate Industries (see website).