Environmental firm targets £10m turnover

Environmental consultancy

An environmental consultancy is targeting a turnover of £10m after a year of strong growth and rapid international expansion.

Manchester-based APEM, which helped save Salford Quays 30 years ago, is gearing up for major growth.

Since being spun out of the University of Manchester in 1987 the company has become a leader in two fields.

As well as being the UK’s leading independent consultancy specialising in aquatic science it is also the world’s number one provider of ultra-high resolution aerial offshore wildlife surveys for the wind farm industry.

Strong growth in 2017 saw turnover reach a record high of £9.53m, up 7% on the previous year and significantly higher than the 4.5% growth rate for the wider environmental consultancy market.

Increased profit margins sparked the company’s second-highest ever profits, trailing only the record amount of almost £1m achieved in 2011.

Overseas income reached over £1.2m in 2017. Major projects include the world’s largest digital offshore wildlife surveys off the coast of New York, covering an area twice the size of Wales.

Having achieved its goal of surpassing £9m in turnover for 2017, the company has set its sights on the milestone of £10m in 2018.

The company’s earliest high profile success came when Salford City Council asked it to investigate the ecological problems plaguing the regeneration of Salford Quays.

To the alarm of developers, sticklebacks were dying in their tens of thousands, cocooned in fungus.

Engineers suggested chlorinating the water in the Quay’s turning basins, killing everything in them.

Fortunately, Salford City Council favoured APEM’s proposal for an innovative scheme to restore a healthy, complex ecology to the water.

The work proved hugely successful and by 2002 the basins were safe enough to be swum in by triathletes during Manchester’s Commonwealth Games.

The company continues to work closely with Salford City Council to manage the water in the basins.

Over the years the Heaton Mersey headquartered company has grown to over 120 staff with offices in Chester, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Cambridge, Oxford, Letchworth, Germany and the US.

It boasts the UK’s largest team of aquatic field-scientists and works with all 11 of the UK’s water and wastewater companies.

In 2006 the company bought its first aircraft to carry out aerial environmental surveys and soon after began surveying birds and other wildlife for the emerging offshore wind energy market.

Over 1,500 aerial surveys later it is the world’s leading specialist in the field and the last five years have seen it win contracts in Germany, France, Ireland, Azerbaijan and the US, including Florida, Hawaii, New England, New York State and the Gulf of Mexico.

With its links to the University of Manchester, science and innovation has always been part of the APEM story.

Since 2014 it has won six awards for innovation, including a Water Industry Achievement Award last month for a project with Welsh Water.

APEM’s managing director, Dr Adrian Williams, said: “Credit for these sterling results must go to our dedicated staff, our superb clients and also to our continued belief in the value of independent advice based on scientifically robust data.

“I’m incredibly proud that we’re again ahead not only of the consultancy market in general, but also of our own business plans.

“With demand returning to the market in recent years, APEM is in a stronger position than ever.”