In the beginning
The Lanes Group plc began life in June 1992 as Lanes for Drains, a Leeds-based drain cleaning and drain repair operation. Today, it’s the UK’s largest independent drainage specialist and part of a group which also includes Lanes Sewer Renovation, and Lanes Rail Division.
From little acorns
The Group’s growth, though significant, has always been achieved in a controlled and focused way. Brand new greenfield depots have been established in parts of the country, whilst in other areas we have acquired existing businesses or purchased their assets; the latter allowing Lanes to use infrastructures, gather skilled staff and local knowledge, and to hit the ground running. And that goes some way to explaining our successful expansion, from one depot to a nationwide network of 22 in just over 20 years.
Your local Lanes
During the 1990s, bases were created or acquired to establish Lanes’ depots in the North West, South Yorkshire, Chester, East Midlands, Preston, the North East — and London. Although the network was concentrated in the North and Midlands, purchasing UK Waste in London in 1998 and assimilating staff who specialised in London Underground contracts, facilitated the formation of ‘Lanes Engineering and Construction’, now the highly successful Lanes Rail Division.
From 2000 to the present day, whilst still building on a structure which was mainly north of Watford, Lanes turned its attention to the far north and to the south to complete the nationwide network. Again, this was achieved either by setting up new local branches or through acquiring existing businesses and assets. By the end of the decade, we had added Bristol, the South East, Hampshire, Kent, West Midlands, a further North East branch, three bases servicing Scotland (including the Highlands and Island)s; Surrey, Cardiff, Plymouth and Cambridgeshire. More recent investment has seen a specialist WNS-contract base established in Slough. With 22 depots covering the entire country, Lanes is a national operator, providing a local service for everyone.
What’s in a name?
By 2005, whilst drainage services were still very much the core business, parts of the company were making their names in other areas: cleaning and hygiene, alongside a sister company in pest control and, notably, the Rail division which, by now, was carrying out major civil engineering projects for rail companies alongside its drainage contracts. Lanes was clearly about much more than drains, so the Board decided to bring everything, including Lanes for Drains, together under one banner — the Lanes Group plc.
In 1997, after Allan Earnshaw’s untimely death, his son, Wayne, took over commercial responsibilities for the business, becoming managing director jointly with Graham Tattersall. Wayne Earnshaw, Graham Tattersall, David Nutton, Alan Wallis, Bruce Crompton, Andrew Brierley and Scott Norris are the directors of Lanes Group plc.
Drainage.. and then some
Despite some diversification, drainage — in all its forms — remains at the core of Lanes’ existence. And, as you may expect of a company at the forefront of its industry, our range of services in this field is absolute and all-encompassing, covering everything from domestic unblocks to major commercial drainage rehabilitation contracts.
Lanes was an early adopter of ‘no-dig’ as a form of drain repair and is now an acknowledged leader, not to mention pioneer, in the field, with a full division dedicated to the technology. An impressive list of clients (government departments, civil engineering giants and utility companies amongst them), huge investment in sophisticated and revolutionary equipment, and a raft of industry awards clearly illustrate this success story.
Other areas of our business have developed naturally, alongside the drainage rationale. Lanes Rail Division works with London Underground, Network Rail and most of the infrastructure organisations on rail related drainage and a much wider remit of rail-related engineering projects.
Active Hygiene Services came on board, even before Lanes — back in 1991 — and Active Pest Control was set up in 1993. Both Active brand companies have now been sold to Cleansafe and Green Compliance, respectively.
In 2006, the Lanes board entered into a joint venture with leading figures from the insurance market to create a new company — Lanes Assistance Services or LAS. Offering emergency warranty packages to insurers, the newcomer took the market by storm and in 2010 was the subject of an MBO backed by private equity specialist, Gresham, to the tune of £12.3 million. LAS continues to be a prominent Lanes’ client.
Investment, investment, investment
In 2012 we won our biggest contract to date — for Wastewater Network Services to Thames Water in the Thames Valley and North London regions for three — possibly up to eight, — years. To service the contract, which may be worth as much as £216 million over the contract period, we invested over £3 million in plant, equipment and a new contract HQ in Slough.
We are immensely proud of our reputation. Continued investment in people, infrastructure and equipment, means our aim that everyone should be within reach of Lanes’ service is now a matter of fact. Some depots have moved to bigger and better premises; we have our eye on, and our hand in, the industry's technological advances and our frontline teams have the best equipment at their disposal. On top of that, we recruit only the most dedicated, enthusiastic and friendly people. That way, we provide the service that our clients not only demand, but deserve.
It’s the Lanes’ way.