Ridgeway secures ‘rockbags’ rights and is set for exponential growth in 2022

A Belfast-based construction supply business has increased by 40% after acquiring the European rights to distribute filter units for use in offshore marine and civil engineering works.

Originally introduced into the UK and Europe in 2009, Ridgeway has acquired the UK and Ireland distribution licence of the patent protected Kyowa Filter Unit known as rockbags and the business has since won numerous high profile offshore energy contracts across the UK and Europe.

The 2021 acquisition of the European licence represents a significant opportunity with an established network of dealers and strategic stock locations.

Rockbags are mainly used for protecting underwater cables and pipelines, as well as stabilising structures. A simple, versatile product constructed of a mesh bag filled with rocks, they are also a popular choice for preventing flood and bridge scour. They are eco-friendly, made from 100% recycled materials and boast a minimum lifespan of 50 years, as well as a quick and accurate installation process, with the added advantage of being easily removed if required. 

Gavin Donnelly, Rockbags division manager, Ridgeway, Anne Beggs, director of Trade and Investment at Invest NI, Stephen Kane, managing director, Ridgeway and Michael Ferguson, sales and logistics, Ridgeway

Ridgeway’s flagship projects include works at the Teesside Offshore Wind Farm built in 2013 by EDF Energy Renewables. It has also won contracts for works in Ireland at Arklow Bank, in Scotland at Beatrice, in England on Robin Rigg, constructed by German provider E.ON, Gwynt y Môr wind farm in Wales (RWE Renewables UK) and other E.ON’s schemes such as Humber Gateway and Rampion.

Amongst the other top tier clients seeking Ridgeway’s filter products and services are Scottish based SSE and Danish multinational power company Orsted. The team works closely with industry specialists such as Global Offshore, part of the Global Marine Group.

Stuart MacCoinneach, assistant project manager at Global Offshore, said: “Ridgeway has been providing Rockbags for various projects over the past seven years. The quality of service is always high and we have never been let down. The team ensures that our project demands are always met, offering flexibility and value for money with a personal touch.” 

Energy giant SSE, which distributes power to 3.7 million homes in central southern England and north of Scotland, has also been using Ridgeway’s services on a regular basis for projects to stabilise and protect surface laid cables exposed to strong currents in deeper water. 

Rockbags are mainly used for protecting underwater cables and pipelines

In the public sector, Ridgeway has secured multiple contracts within the Environment Agency Framework programmes throughout the UK, other solutions include the provision of a fast response around flood alleviation measures to consider the consequential effects of climate change.

The fast-growing business has delivered top line growth through innovation, new business and increased demand in Offshore Renewables.

Stephen Kane, managing director of Ridgeway, explained: “From a starting point over 50 years ago in traditional building supplies, Ridgeway has become a supply chain partner of choice for companies operating in a range of sectors including construction, engineering and offshore marine. 

“Founded in 1969, Ridgeway has expanded both organically and through acquisition. We have witnessed growth into new and existing market segments by nurturing our business partnerships as we strive to deliver outstanding end-to-end services and solutions. 

“The acquisition of Kyowa’s European and African distribution rights is testament to our excellent performance and project track record in our existing markets and is an essential part of the business going forward.   

“Working with top tier clients including major contractors and utility providers across the UK and Ireland, we have experienced exponential growth and are ramping up our service offering across Europe to meet demand.  With two stock and filling locations in Norway already well established we are experiencing increased demand for these patented protected solutions.

“The acquisition of Rockbags has seen our turnover rise by 40% and allowed us to expand into other countries, establishing solid product performance on multimillion-pound projects and paving the way for more work from similar schemes across Europe, Africa and beyond.  

“We pride ourselves on offering an exceptional service to clients, one that we refer to as a partnership. We also ensure we leave a sustainable footprint in the areas we work by providing localised labour on all filling locations, as well as using locally sourced stone and minimum transport to port.” 

Anne Beggs, director of Trade and Investment at Invest NI, added: Ridgeway is a fantastic example of a local family-owned company which takes a strategic and ambitious approach to its growth locally, nationally and internationally.  

“The announcement is testament to our strong working relationship with Ridgeway in action. We have worked closely with the company to support its business growth, offering advice and support to help establish the company in the international renewable energy sector. Our on-going trade support will assist Ridgeway to take this deal even further and maximise export sales across Europe. 

“This deal shines a spotlight on NI’s construction sector, showcasing our strong reputation for delivering excellence and expertise combined with innovation in global markets. This is something that Stephen and his team should all be proud of.” 

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