The leading prison fencer in the country has notched up 80 years in existence – with the plan to double its turnover by the time it turns 100.
Binns Fencing Limited, now a part of the Zaun perimeter protection group, is ideally placed to benefit from the growing fear of international terrorism, both from organised targeting of critical national infrastructure and the current trend for lone-wolf attacks.
But the firm had much humbler routes. AJ Binns was first registered in 1937 when John Binns set up business in Great Marlborough Street in Central London.
As the demand for Binns products grew, the company was divided into two sections to accommodate the specialist knowledge required for the diversity of its product range.
AJ Binns Limited catered for the growth in the sports and leisure industry and today remains one of the industry leaders in changing room equipment, shop fittings and racking systems.
Meanwhile, Binns Fencing rapidly grew to become the market leader in the installation of high-security fencing systems.
Binns Fencing MD Adam Binns, the grandson of the founder John, reminisces: “Eighty years with the direct descendants of one family at the helm feels like quite a milestone in this day and age.
“And there have been many twists and turns and trials and tribulations in that time.”
Adam’s father and John’s son Julian joined the company in 1970, having trained as an industrial designer. He commissioned renowned industrial designer Sir Kenneth Grange CBE, to design a new range of products based on good looks, high-quality materials and the flexibility to suit a wide range of applications.
The range was given the name Variset® and won a Design Council Award in 1972. The range has developed from the original multiple hook system to include many more products, with design quality always the top priority.
In 1997, the company moved to its present location in Potters Bar, alongside sister business Binns Fencing. It has introduced the reverse hook system, coin-operated cable lock and, most recently, the Hookamals range.
Meanwhile, Binns Fencing was forging a fine reputation working with high-security businesses and institutions.
It, too, was an innovator in its field, developing its own registered design anti-climb system called the Flexible Security Topping or FST. Over the years, this has been installed in HM prisons, secure hospitals, young offender institutions and immigration centres throughout the UK and worldwide.
More recently, Binns Fencing has adapted the configuration of FST specifically for the utility sector. Mounted on top of utility compound perimeter fencing, it presents razor wire to a would-be intruder without posing any risk to the public.
This followed the sale of a majority stake to Zaun Limited in 2015, which bought 73% from Adam’s brother, aunt and father Julian, while Adam retained his 27% shareholding.
He said: “I had been looking for a new partner for a few years and had talks with other fencing manufacturers. But Zaun was the best match.
“We had worked alongside each other on several prisons and other high-security jobs over the years, including the £250m-plus super-prison that opened at Wrexham this year, and this coming together was the natural next step.
“With more and more clients asking for integration of both physical and electronic security solutions as well, this acquisition alongside Zaun’s purchase of EyeLynx massively enhanced the range of systems we as a group could integrate.”
Binns’ exemplary reputation with the Ministry of Justice, the Ministry of Defence and NHS Trusts has led it to unveil a Centre of Excellence for Prisons at its Potters Bar HQ and propose a new perimeter security model PIDs procurement and delivery.
It believes the UK Government could make significant savings by adopting its proposed model for delivering perimeter security. It provides a single point of contact for the complete perimeter security package, providing greater opportunity for innovation, reducing complexity and the need to manage multiple contractors.
Binns believes this could offer significant cost savings on PIDs cable installation and contract and project management costs.
The Government is yet to announce its latest prison build and refurbishment programme. But, as Security & Policing kicks off, the first prisoners will be moved into HMP Berwyn, the new super-prison at Wrexham, which will eventually house up to 2,100 inmates and cost £250m to build.
Adam concluded: “We have devised this model in consultation with the Government, main contractors and suppliers, to deliver the best value and a greater potential to innovate with a single point of contact throughout procurement, delivery and installation.
“This increasing integration and collaboration in the future and I believe Binns is well placed to double its turnover in the next 20 years on the back of the trend.”