Contractor boosts turnover to £1bn as it buys Bristol outfit Pearce for £22m

ISG has taken its turnover close to the £1bn mark with the acquisition of Pearce Group, a regional contractor in the South-west.

ISG paid £12.75m for the 85-year-old business, with a further deferred consideration of £9m to be added over the next two years depending on performance. The Bristol firm has a turnover of almost £160m.

The purchase of Pearce, which has a large specialist retail business, further strengthens ISG’s presence in the sector following its acquisition of Cathedral, another retail specialist, in April.

Pearce has two divisions: an £88m-turnover food retailing division with clients including Tesco, Marks & Spencer, Sainsbury’s and Asda; and a £70m construction business in the West Country and south Wales.

The construction business expands ISG’s regional coverage from the South, East and North. It will also add to its affordable, social and student housing capability.

Colin Forrest, chief executive of Pearce, will join the ISG group managing directors’ operational board.

In the year to 30 April, Pearce, which employs 350 staff, posted a pre-tax profit of £2m on a turnover of £158m. Secured work in September for the year to 30 April stood at £147m.

David Lawther, head of ISG, revealed he was now looking towards Asia to expand. He said: “We’ve got a template now that gives us a good geographic coverage in the UK. We will continue to monitor opportunities but our focus in terms of acquisitions is Asia.”

Lawther has spent about £60m expanding ISG’s operations beyond its traditional base in London over the past two years.

Earlier this year the group acquired consultancy Commtech Asia, building on its presence in the market with ISG Asia.

The life and times of Pearce

1922 Founded as CH Pearce Construction in Bristol
1948 Becomes the largest housebuilder in Bristol
1968 Quoted on the London stock exchange
1985 Acquired by Crest Nicholson
1996-2002 Secures national partnering contracts with Asda, Tesco and Waitrose
2003 Agrees management buyout from Crest Nicholson
2004 All group companies unite as Pearce Group
2007 Secures deals with M&S, Rolls-Royce and Sainsbury’s

ISG at a glance

£925.2m turnover

£180m national retail business

£300m regional construction business

International fit out and project management operation with 10 offices in Europe and Asia