Building services firm sold to private equity-backed national player

A 100-strong building services firm based in Leicester has been snapped up by a private equity-backed firm.

Nicholls Colton Group has been bought by Construction Testing Solutions (CTS), which is backed by Palatine.

Palatine first invested in CTS in 2018, when it was called CET Infrastructure. It provides construction testing, geotechnical, structural investigation, calibration and consulting services nationwide.

The acquisition of Nicholls Colton, which is headquartered in Leicester, will bring more than 100 skilled employees to CTS. Nicholls Colton was founded in 1965 and is active in the commercial, energy, environmental, highway, housing, maintenance, rail, utility, brownfield and recycling sectors. Its former owner and CEO, Ian Elliot is remaining with the combined business and joining the management team.

Phil Coles, Chief Executive of CTS said: “The Nicholls Colton Group acquisition strengthens our position in the UK construction testing market and provides numerous synergies and opportunities that benefit both CTS and our clients,

“This acquisition complements the CGL deal announced just two months ago and reinforces our commitment to growth in this sector in attracting market leading talent and capability to our business.”

Elliot said “I’m delighted to be joining CTS as director on the senior leadership team supporting the integration process and the future growth of the combined business.”

Tom Hustler, investment manager at Palatine Private Equity added: “We’re delighted to support CTS with another acquisition, following quickly after the acquisition of CGL in early December.

“Nicholls Colton is a great addition to the business and demonstrates our continued appetite to support the team with their buy and build strategy.”

Debt finance for acquisition was provided by the Birmingham office of Clydesdale Yorkshire Bank, led by Ian Howey and Sunil Prabhaker.

Financial due diligence was provided by Grant Thornton’s Midlands team, while legal advice was provided by Gareth Davies and Ryan Brown at Browne Jacobson.

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