A CONCRETE foundations specialist based in England has unveiled plans to open a factory in Scotland this year to capitalise on opportunities in what it called a "busy" market in the country.

Van Elle is eyeing sites in the Central Belt of Scotland for a plant where it will make pre-cast concrete components for use in building foundations. With the company mulling an investment of around £1 million in the facility, the expansion plan provides a notable vote of confidence in the prospects for the Scottish construction market.

Vic Handley, deputy managing director of Van Elle, said the company has been winning lots of business from big housebuilders and on infrastructure projects in Scotland recently. This provides further evidence the Scottish market is recovering from a long downturn.

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On Monday, Taylor Wimpey said it has seen house prices in Scotland start to rise more quickly in recent months amid strong demand.

Van Elle aims to increase turnover in Scotland to £15m within three years from £8m currently.

Mr Handley said: "It seems a busy place. Whichever way the yes/no vote [on independence for Scotland] goes we want to be part of the plans that are happening in Scotland at the minute."

He said Van Elle expects to employ around ten people producing its Smartfoot foundation system at the plant it will open in Scotland.

Having a plant in Scotland will allow Van Elle to reduce the cost of supplying goods to customers in the country.

The company has headquarters in Nottingham. It has a Scottish office in Bellshill.

Mr Handley said Van Elle had spent £10m on plant and equipment in the last year after forecasting an increase in UK construction activity 18 months ago. He said the company aims to expand across all sectors of construction, especially rail, infrastructure and housing. It is confident of achieving a 25 per cent increase in turnover and profits this financial year.

The privately-owned company increased pre-tax profits to £1.7m in the year to March, from £1.3m in the preceding year.

Turnover increased to £35.7m from £33.9m.