The spate of terror attacks in Britain that have used vehicles as weapons has sparked a surge in demand for anti-terror hydraulic rising bollard and paving slabs, according to landscape products company Marshalls.
The business makes paving stones, kerbs and street furniture such as benches and bollards and chief executive Martyn Coffey said he had seen a huge increase in inquiries about how these can be used to protect the public from vehicles mounting pavements.
“We’ve got products such as bollards and planters, which can stop a 10-tonne truck in its tracks, but it’s not always practical to have these on pavements every few yards,” said the boss of the FTSE 250 business.
“We also make protective kerbs, which are used at bus stops to protect passengers by pushing the bus back if it comes close to mounting the pavement. These are the kind of products local authorities are asking about and how they can be put on bridges,” he added, saying inquiries had risen “10-fold” in recent months, both from UK and international customers.
In March a car was driven on to the pavement of Westminster Bridge in an attack that killed four and injured more than 50, and in June a van was used in a similar incident on London Bridge.
Mr Coffey revealed the interest in Marshalls’ products as the company announced a strong first half, with revenue 8pc higher at ￡219.1m and pre-tax profit rising 16pc to ￡29.1m. Cash flow also improved with net cash of ￡1.2m at the end of June, compared with debt of ￡8.8m a year ago.
This growth was attributed to older homeowners choosing to smarten up their homes funded by equity release from pensions, said Mr Coffey. “The average equity release is about ￡9,000 and it costs about ￡5,000 to do a patio or driveway,” he said.
The public and commercial operation, which makes up 60pc of sales, grew by 3pc, with cash-strapped councils holding off on spending. This was outweighed by commercial contracts such as housebuilding.