Unit Group Acquires One of UK’s Leading Engineering Firms in Multi Million Pound Deal

10 August 2010

South Wales-based Unit Engineers and Constructors Ltd has acquired one of the UK’s most established engineering firms in a multi million pound deal which is set to create over 100 jobs for Wales.

Unit Engineers and Constructors Ltd, part of the Unit Group of companies, has acquired Birwelco Ltd from the Haden Freeman Group after working together on a number of projects. The acquisition, which has been financed by Lloyds Banking Group, is set to create 100 new skilled jobs for Wales as Unit forecasts an annual turnover in excess of £50million for Birwelco by 2013. Birwelco’s base in the West Midlands will remain with plans for further job creation there also.

The deal also propels Unit into the small number of EPC (Engineering, Procurement and Construction) Contractors operating in the Oil and Gas, Refinery, Chemical, Petrochemical and Utilities industries. Unit Engineers and Constructors has traditionally provided fabrication and installation services within those sectors whilst Birwelco has provided design and procurement – by combining Birwelco’s design expertise with the renowned construction capabilities of Unit, the new entity is set to become a major force in the EPC market.

Managing Director of Unit Engineers and Constructors, Bill Ledwood, said: “From a start-up company in 2004 to now becoming an EPC contractor, acquiring one of our biggest clients, is a massive step for Unit and puts us on a completely different level. We now have a significant opportunity to target new markets as an EPC contractor and offer much greater diversification of engineering products and services to our existing customer base. It became clear that there was a synergy between the two businesses after working on a number of projects and we could see that the continued growth of both companies would be best served by adding the strength of the Birwelco brand to the Unit Group portfolio of companies. It is an excellent fit and the combined entity will have the financial strength, skills and customer base to create a true EPC contractor with the capabilities to execute all work in-house.

“We predict a steady growth over the next three years for Birwelco with a target annual turnover expected to exceed £50million. We aim to create in excess of 100 skilled jobs in Wales as we take on the construction work on Birwelco’s order books. This additional work will also have a significant positive knock-on effect on suppliers and sub-contractors in Wales. We also expect our export activity to significantly increase to make us one of Wales’ leading exporters.

“We will be looking to create a global presence for Birwelco with plans to open offices in the United States and the Far East as the company grows. The opportunities the acquisition presents are endless and we are very pleased to have added Birwelco to the Unit family.”

Nigel Hirst, former shareholder of Birwelco, said: “I am pleased that the future of Birwelco is safe in the hands of Unit Group. Unit’s Managing Director, Bill Ledwood and I share a common belief in the importance of investing in the future of a strong British engineering sector. I wish Birwelco and the Unit Group every success in the future.”

Unit Engineers and Constructors Ltd, which provides services to clients worldwide, has enjoyed sustained growth over the past six years since it was established in 2004 and was last year identified as the fastest growing company in Wales at the Fast Growth 50 awards. The Birwelco acquisition comes just a year after Unit acquired the project, turnaround and bundle pulling division from engineering company, Motherwell Bridge.

Lloyds Banking Group provided funding for the deal via an acquisition finance funding package. Steve Jones, Relationship Director for Lloyds TSB Corporate Markets in South Wales, said: “We’re delighted to be helping such a strong Welsh business as Unit Engineers and Constructors to realise its growth ambitions. The company is led by a team of directors who, together, have over one hundred years experience in the field and we very much look forward to working with them to build on this excellent foundation.”

Bill Ledwood said: “Lloyds TSB’s knowledge of our business and industry and the team’s understanding of the benefits we could offer the marketplace through this acquisition was critical to a successful deal.”

Birwelco now joins Unit Engineers and Constructors, with operations in West Wales and North-east England, within the Unit Group of companies which also includes Unit Superheater Engineering Ltd (USE). The group, which is headquartered in Swansea, currently employs over 250 skilled staff in South Wales.

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