Canadian engineering firm acquires Hydrock

Engineering and design firm Hydrock has been acquired by Stantec, bolstering the Canadian firm’s workforce by more than 30%.

Stantec, a listed global leader in sustainable design and engineering, has acquired Bristol-based Hydrock which employs just under 1,000 people. The deal means Stantec now has more than 30,000 people working from over 450 offices worldwide.

Founded in 1995, Hydrock has a presence with 22 offices, including in Birmingham, Manchester, Cardiff, Glasgow, Newcastle, Truro and Plymouth and has 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.

BGF invested £5.6m in Hydrock to support the firm’s organic growth plans as well as 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.

Gord Johnston, Stantec’s president and chief executive officer said: “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.”

Dr Scott Elliott, managing director of Hydrock, now Stantec said: “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.

“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.”

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.”

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.

Hydrock and BGF shareholders were advised by KPMG CF (Khush Purewal, Callum Shields, Harry Stephenson), while legal advice was provided by law firm Freeths (Mohammed Abbas, Charlotte Collard).

Stantec was advised by law firm DLA Piper, with tax diligence provided by EY.

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