HESCO Bastion, the Yorkshire company which gave its name to the British army’s stronghold against the Taliban, is helping to protect frontline FBI officers from criminals.
Hesco has bought Reed Composite Solutions (RCS), a specialist manufacturer of ballistic plate protectors, which is based in Washington state in the US.
It’s part of a strategy of diversification for Hesco, which was founded by the late philanthropist Jimi Heselden and has suffered a fall in revenues following the UK’s military withdrawal from Afghanistan.
Leeds-based Hesco Bastion makes the blast wall basket, which replaced sandbags as protection for soldiers. Camp Bastion, the British military base in Afghanistan, was named after the firm. The firm’s protective barriers can also be used to protect oil engineers, UN peacekeepers and remote villagers from flooding.
In the year ending January 31 2014, Hesco Bastion reported turnover of £20m, compared with the previous year’s figure of £33m. However, profit before tax still increased to £4.5m from £4.1m last year, as Hesco adapted to the changing economic climate.
The acquisition of RCS, which is rebranding as Hesco Armor, could lead to more jobs being created in Leeds.
Mike Hughes, Hesco Bastion’s chief executive, said: “It produces hard armour that is used by US law enforcement as well as military, so for us that’s quite a side step in terms of the types of business that Hesco has done historically, although it does fit very neatly with the vision of the business which puts materials between people and harm’s way.
“We have contracts with local law enforcement and US coastguard and various other agencies that supply the FBI within the US.
“The FBI have bought some of our product over there. I would anticipate that Hesco Armor is a first step for Hesco with a view to expanding our portfolio, so that would give us the opportunity for other acquisitions in the US and maybe elsewhere, depending on world demand.”
In the past, Hesco has played a significant role in protecting British troops on the ground in places like Afghanistan.