Leeds-based Sweco has secured a deal to become a £108m turnover business - here’s why

A YORKSHIRE firm which has worked on some of the UK’s biggest building projects has secured a major acquisition to create a £108m turnover business.

Max Joy of Sweco Picture Copyright Chris Watt

The Leeds-headquartered engineering, environment and design consultancy Sweco UK has enhanced its range of multidisciplinary services and grown its geographic footprint, with the acquisition of MLM Group.

The deal creates a combined business with an annual turnover of £108 million and 1,340 employees, across a network of 26 offices in the UK and Ireland.

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The acquisition complements Sweco’s skills in transportation, the environment, energy and building design, by incorporating MLM Group’s specialist expertise in structural engineering and compliance.

Established in 1966, MLM Group is one of the largest, privately-owned engineering, environmental and building control consultancies in the UK. Its 13 offices are predominantly located in London, Southern England and Ireland.

The move follows a successful four years for Sweco since it entered the UK market with the acquisition of Grontmij in 2015. Since then, the business – which is part of Europe’s largest engineering and architectural consultancy – has achieved year-on-year growth and consulted on a wide range of landmark projects. These include Scotland’s Queensferry Crossing, the new Bloomberg European headquarters in London and the modernisation of research sites for the British Antarctic Survey.

MLM Group, which employs 460 people, has an annual revenue of around £40 million and EBITA of £4 million.

Max Joy, president of Sweco UK, said: “This acquisition marks the start of an exciting new chapter in our UK growth story.

He added: “The combination of Sweco and MLM Group’s expertise in transport, buildings and environmental engineering will enhance our value proposition to customers while opening up new opportunities in key markets.

“We believe the combination of Sweco’s established expertise in building design, with MLM’s specialist structural engineering capabilities and world-class compliance offer is a compelling proposition for new and existing customers.

“MLM’s presence in the South East of England and Dublin, is an excellent fit with our existing office network, providing an enlarged geographic footprint which brings us closer to our clients.

“Our businesses have a strong cultural fit, and we remain focused on being the most approachable and committed partner to our clients, while driving sustainability across the built environment.”

Steve Oliver, chairman at MLM Group, said: “We’re proud of the achievements our business has made in its long history and this deal accelerates our long-term growth ambitions by becoming part of a leading, global consultancy whose values mirror our own.

“We will leverage the significant expertise we have across the business to continue to drive sustainable growth for Sweco in the UK, while creating new opportunities for the development of our committed workforce.”

Sweco employs 15,500 people across Europe and delivers projects in 70 countries annually across the world.

The business is one of Europe’s biggest engineering, environment and design consultancy, with sales of approximately SEK 16.5 billion (EUR 1,8 billion). The company is listed on Nasdaq Stockholm.

Sweco was advised by a team from the Leeds office of global law firm Squire Patton Boggs, led by corporate partner Paul Mann and senior associate Louise Parker.

The Leeds office of EY, led by Mark Allcroft, provided the financial and tax due diligence to Sweco.

The deal value is undisclosed.

Sweco is keen to shout about its presence in Yorkshire following its acquisition in 2015 of Grontmij, which has a long established base in Leeds. Sweco employs around 230 staff in Leeds.

Last year, it was ranked as a top 10 UK civil engineering firm for the first time, by the New Civil Engineer - the magazine of the Institution of Civil Engineers.

In Leeds, the team is providing consultancy services on a growing number of innovative schemes, including the Leeds District Heat Network for Leeds City Council. It is also involved in installing telemetry assets for Yorkshire Water.

Last year, Asa Bergman, the global president and CEO of Sweco, visited the company’s base in Leeds to meet its UK management team.