TWO Hampshire construction firms with the same chairman have merged to become one of the region’s biggest companies in the industry, employing more than 400 people.

Blanchard Wells and Southern Concrete have become Blanchard Wells Structures and Civils, providing civil engineering and reinforced concrete structures for the construction industry.

Blanchard Wells was founded in 2000 by Mark Wells and Mark Blanchard. Mr Blanchard’s son Luke is managing director of the new business.

Mark Wells, chairman of both businesses, said: “Blanchard Wells is celebrating 20 years in business by bringing our two companies together. We are ambitious and aim to grow.

“This is a logical step to combine our groundworks expertise with our skills in reinforced concrete frames (RC) and civil engineering and it will make it easier for our customers to do business with us.”

The company employs more than 400 people and has its headquarters in Soberton. Its order book stands at £25million and its turnover in 2017/18 was £34m.

It is working on 20 projects in the region, including Winchester’s new leisure centre, in partnership with Willmott Dixon; a 15-storey residential block in East Street, in partnership with PMC; and landscaping for the University of Southampton.

It is also providing the groundwork and RC structure works for the new undersea cable power line from France, Interconnector Project IFA2, which enters the UK at Daedalus in Stubbington, Fareham.

Blanchard Wells Structures and Civils’ first three employees – Matt Thomas, Joe Pedder and Mark Camp – still work for the company, although Mr Pedder is 80 and considering going part-time.

Luke Blanchard said: “I am proud to take the helm of the company at this milestone in its history. We are successful because of our exemplary safety record, impeccable quality and can-do attitude and are ready to grow further over the next 20 years.”

Mark Wells has been one of the industry leaders behind the launch of the Civil Engineering Training Centre (CETC) at Fareham College which is training the next generation of ground workers and will continue to be involved.