The merged firm has almost 1,000 employees in the UK

Ramboll has bought fellow engineer and public sector specialist Gifford to create one of the largest engineering consultants in the UK.

The move means Ramboll UK now rivals Buro Happold in size, with almost 1,000 employees.

Ramboll UK is part of Ramboll Group, the Danish-based engineering group that has over 9,000 staff and a €810m turnover.

Charles McBeath, Ramboll’s UK managing director, said: “One of the drivers is to strengthen the Ramboll position in the UK. We have always recognised that our reputation is high in the building sector. But we need to strengthen in the infrastructure and environmental sectors.”

“It’s going to be a major shakeup within the major players,” he said.

Gifford is largely focused on the UK public sector, and McBeath said that this would complement Ramboll’s private sector bias. He said despite public sector cuts now was the right time to grow.

“This is a unique time to prepare ourselves for when the economy improves, which it is beginning to do.” Of the public sector, he said: “That market will come back.”

He did not say how much the deal had cost Ramboll, but did reveal that it had been negotiated from Denmark.

In 2010 Gifford had 605 staff, more than Ramboll UK’s 446, with 147 chartered engineers, slightly fewer than Ramboll UK’s 178. As a result of the acquisition, Ramboll UK is now the eleventh biggest engineer, by chartered staff, in the country.

Gifford is an LLP, and in 2009 had a turnover of £42m and a pre-tax profit of £3.5m. The bulk of its business is in education, health, road and rail.

McBeath said the Gifford name would remain “in the near future” but would eventually be rebranded as Ramboll.

He said that he was “not currently planning” any major changes to Gifford as a result of the deal.