CRH plans €20m education hub at Dublin headquarters

Building materials group plans to apply for permission to build 5,500sq m centre

CRH chief executive Albert Manifold: “This development positions Belgard Castle at the centre of the group.” Photograph: Cyril Byrne

CRH chief executive Albert Manifold: “This development positions Belgard Castle at the centre of the group.” Photograph: Cyril Byrne

 

Building materials giant CRH is planning to build a state-of-the-art education centre for the group at its headquarters in Dublin, which is expected to cost more than €20 million to develop.

The company – which is currently refurbishing its head office at Belgard Castle, an 18th-century house attached to a medieval tower between Clondalkin and Tallaght in southwest Dublin – plans to make a planning application to South Dublin County Council to build the new 5,500sq m education centre and learning archive.

CRH, which is led by chief executive Albert Manifold and which employs 87,000 people across 3,800 locations in 31 countries, aims to bring managers and employees globally to the new centre to “collaborate with peers across the organisation through thought leadership sessions, training and development programmes and innovation, sustainability and diversity initiatives”, it said in a statement.

“We envisage that significant numbers of CRH colleagues from all over the world will visit Ireland each year to participate in a variety of programmes and initiatives in the education centre and learning archive,” Mr Manifold said. “This development positions Belgard Castle at the centre of the group.”

The move comes two years after CRH, which was formed in 1970 through the merger of Cement Ltd and Roadstone Ltd, moved much of its head office staff about 15 miles east of the headquarters, to Stonemason’s Way in Rathfarnham. This property contains CRH’s books and accounting records.

Some 250 employees are based across the two locations.

The development comes as CRH has returned to the acquisition trail this year, after taking time off in 2016 to digest €8 billion of deals carried out in 2015. Last month, Ireland’s most valuable publicly-quoted company saw its $3.5 billion (€3 billion) offer for Kansas-based Ash Grove Cement accepted by shareholders in the US company.

It emerged on Monday that CRH had signalled its interest in bidding for a controlling stake in South Africa’s Pretoria Portland Cement, which has a market value of the equivalent of about €600 million.

Davy analysts Robert Gardiner and Barry Dixon said in a note to clients on Tuesday that there was “a low probability of this deal occurring, given management’s stated preference for value-creating deals in developed end-markets”.

The market value of CRH has fallen by almost 10 per cent so far this year, to €24.9 billion, partly as investors scaled back initial excitement following the election of Donald Trump as US president, which had fuelled hopes that the group’s US unit would be a key beneficiary from the new administration’s $1 trillion infrastructure spending plans.

Still, CRH continues to make up 26 per cent of the Iseq index in Dublin, almost twice as much as much as the weighting of its closest rival, nutrition company Kerry Group. CRH is slated to publish a trading and development update on November 21st.