Bristol engineering firm is acquired by global business for undisclosed amount

Engineering and design firm Hydrock has been acquired by a global  business for an undisclosed amount.

Stantec, a global leader in sustainable design and engineering, has acquired  the Bristol from which employs just under 1,000 people.

Founded in 1995, Hydrock  has a presence with 22 UK locations and experience in providing  sustainable solutions for major projects across the country’s public and private sectors.

As part of Stantec’s continued global growth strategy, the Hydrock acquisition will increase Stantec’s UK workforce by over 30 per cent, significantly bolstering Stantec’s offering to the energy, buildings, and infrastructure markets, as well as the wider built environment.

“We look forward to welcoming the Hydrock team to Stantec,” said Gord Johnston, Stantec’s president and chief executive officer. “When combined with the strategic acquisitions of ZETCON and  Morrison Hershfield, we will have grown our global workforce by over 2,700 people within the first four  months of 2024, further strengthening our offering in line with market demands.”

“The coming together of Stantec and Hydrock is an ambitious and compatible evolution for both our  firms in the UK,” said Cath Schefer, Stantec’s executive vice president and chief operating officer.

“Hydrock provides us with a highly complementary line of services and expertise  which only reinforces our UK offering. Our combined experience, knowledge, and creativity, as well as  our shared commitment to create better, more liveable places for people and communities, puts us in an exceptional position to deliver meaningful value for our industry-leading clients.”

“Hydrock’s people are united by a shared purpose to be a force for good. I’m delighted that this aligns  so well with Stantec’s culture,” said Dr Scott Elliott, managing director of Hydrock, now Stantec.

“Through our integration, we’ll be able to expand our reach and influence internationally, penetrate  exciting new markets, and provide excellent new career opportunities for our people. Together, we’ll  pioneer engineering solutions, drive energy resilience, and support this country’s vital transition to a  low-carbon economy.

“I’d like to thank our retiring founder Dr Brian McConnell for his tireless efforts  growing the business over the last 29 years into what is now a highly respected national brand.

“This is  a pivotal moment in our company’s history and an exciting new chapter for our colleagues and our  clients.”

BGF has provided £5.6m to support Hydrock’s organic growth plans as well helping to fund the acquisition of seven complementary consultancy businesses.

During the time of BGF’s investment, Hydrock has significantly scaled its operations, expanded into new geographies and service lines, and focused on larger projects in high growth sectors. As a result, Hydrock has seen revenue increase from £30m to £84m. The investment has delivered a 6x multiple return and a 40% IRR for BGF.

Paul Oldham, Investor at BGF, said: “We are delighted to have supported the excellent Hydrock team through a highly successful six-year period of growth. Hydrock is a leading light in the field of sustainable engineering design. With a fantastic internal culture, it has always demonstrated a strong alignment with BGF’s principles of uniting purpose and profit. It has been a privilege to be part of Hydrock’s fantastic growth journey and we wish the entire team all the best for their next exciting chapter.”

National law firm Freeths advised the shareholders of  Hydrock, on its sale.

Freeths and Hydrock have had a long-lasting professional relationship and the two firms embody similar culture and values. Freeths supported Hydrock in taking investment from BGF in 2018 and it has had a period of strong and sustainable growth since then with Freeths having supported Hydrock on both its organic and acquisitive growth during that time.

The Freeths legal team was led by M&A and Private Equity Director Mohammed Abbas, supported by Charlotte Collard (Associate, Corporate), Emily Arnett (Legal Assistant, Corporate), Max Pengilley (Trainee Solicitor, Corporate), Stephen Jones (Partner, Tax), Alex Angelides (Managing Associate, Tax), James Dyson (Partner, Banking and Finance) and Charlotte Beddows (Associate, Banking and Finance).

Mohammed Abbas added: “This is a landmark move for Hydrock, which has only gone from strength-to-strength since gaining funding from BGF in 2018. We are proud to have worked with Hydrock for as long as we have. Both our long-standing relationship with Hydrock and our involvement in this sale demonstrate our pedigree for working with private equity backed companies and supporting their growth.”

Hydrock’s portfolio of technical consulting experience focusses on building design and performance, energy and sustainability, climate adaptation, and geo-environmental services.

Standout projects include:

-Delivery of The University of the West of England’s flagship Faculty of Engineering and Design building.

-Engineering design for ‘the UK’s greenest hospital,’ Velindre Cancer Centre, Wales.

-Acting as the lead multidisciplinary consultant on an engineering-led masterplan for one of the largest undeveloped sites in Greater Manchester.

– Supporting the transformative redevelopment of Pitlochry Theatre, the largest of its kind in Scotland.

– Providing a full complement of multidisciplinary engineering services to support the creation of multi-award-winning The Wave, Bristol leisure facility.

The acquisition follows a strong period of both organic and acquisitive growth for Stantec. In the first four months of 2024, the Company has added more than 2,700 team members to its global workforce through three consecutive acquisitions, including Germany-based ZETCON, Ontario, Canada-based Morrison Hershfield, and now Hydrock.

The firm has continually invested in its UK presence with a series of acquisitions since 2016, comprising MWH, ESI, Peter Brett Associates, and Barton Willmore.

The company now has more than 30,000 people working from over 450 offices worldwide.

Click here to sign up to receive our new South West business news...