The Cembrit story

The history of Cembrit Ltd

Dansk Eternit interests in the UK

Cembrit Holding (former Dansk Eternit Holding) has for a long time operated successfully in the UK selling fibre cement slates to the buoyant UK construction market. In 1986 Dansk Eternit secured its UK position by acquiring its main outlet B.M. Fabrications. The company was restyled Cembrit Building Products Ltd.

During the period 1988-92 Cembrit Building Products portfolio was successfully expanded to include Dansk Eternit’s popular cladding, building board and corrugated sheet products.

Changes in the management structure culminating in the merger with Allan Blunn in 2000, created a powerful amalgamation of expertise in natural slate with the strength of a fibre cement slate manufacturer. One outcome – a perfect slate offering for the UK market.

Origins in service

From its inception in 1934 under the leadership of Ashleigh Greville Blunn this business has been dedicated to marketing reliable natural slate to the building trade’s requirements.

Known as Allan Blunn Ltd the business was 1 of only 4 Welsh slate quarry agents in the UK. On the banks of the Thames in Rotherhithe Allan Blunn Ltd was deliberately located close to its customers. Soon after the companies founding the range was expanded to include increasingly popular fibre-cement slates, a less time consuming alternative to natural slates for roofers and a useful substitute if supplies of natural slates became interrupted.

From 1979-2000 the business was owned by the Folkes Group, the midlands based foundry business and one of the original companies incorporated in Britain. During this period the business consolidated its position as the UK’s natural slate specialist by;
  • The commencement of import of slate from Spain (now the largest source of roofing slate in the world)
  • The acquisition of John Williams Ltd (one of the other original Welsh quarry agents) also based in Rotherhithe.

The best slates from around the world

The successful philosophy of offering a specialised local service to the London building market was reproduced on the south coast, the west-country and in Yorkshire with the opening of regional depots between 1993-5. The pioneering introduction of Canadian natural slates in 1997 meant that the business was able to offer slates of a quality and appearance to match any roof slate on the UK market. This innovation signified the worldwide reach of the business’s procurement skills and has been supplemented by the introduction of top quality natural slates from newly emerging sources such as Brazil and India. As these deposits are new the rock is comparatively easy to extract. The quarries are also able to take advantage of the latest quarrying technology resulting in more efficient extraction and correspondingly lower end-user prices.

From Rotherhithe to Thamesmead

In 1997 the business changed its name to Blunn Slates and having outgrown its Rotherhithe premises moved its London depot to Thamesmead. In 2000 the business was acquired by the Dansk Eternit A/S Holding company, ultimately owned by FL Smidth, a worldwide supplier of cement processing equipment and an early pioneer of fibre-cement building products. Dansk Eternit was already present in the UK with its subsidiary Cembrit UK Ltd supplying fibre-cement slates as well as building boards, claddings and corrugated sheet. The unified organization Cembrit Blunn Ltd was now a major supplier of natural and man made slates with the widest range of formats qualities and surface aspects available in the UK.

One name - one future

In 2008 the Dansk Eternit Group and its subsidiaries changed their names to Cembrit. The original Allan Blunn ethos remains and has helped us to grow to become one of the most important arms of the Cembrit Holding A/S group. Continued emphasis on expertise in the field of slating has confirmed Cembrit’s position as the UK’s slate specialist. This has enabled the business to make strong relationships with quarries and suppliers around the world giving Cembrit access to the best natural slate available. Focus on exceptional service to the roofing trade has enhanced Cembrit’s reputation as the easiest slate supplier to deal with, contributing to the smooth running of every project incorporating Cembrit slates.
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The old Dansk Eternit logo - now replaced with the Cembrit logo
The original Allan Blunn logo carved from natural slate
Cembrit Limited | 57 Kellner Road | London SE28 0AX | T: 020 8301 8900 | E: sales@cembrit.co.uk
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