Chief executive says Ramboll takeover will allow firm to take advantage of emerging markets

Only the 10 biggest engineers in the UK can remain independent, according to the chief executive of Gifford, which was taken over by Ramboll UK at the end of March.

Steve Canadine said that to take advantage of emerging markets, overseas engineers “have to be top 10 and growing.”

On 30 March Ramboll bought Gifford for an undisclosed sum to create the UK’s 11th biggest engineer by chartered staff, just behind Buro Happold.

Before the acquisition, Gifford had been ranked as number 19, with Ramboll UK number 16.  

“If you are mid-sized, there are only a certain number of things you can pursue,” he said.

He said that Gifford, which has 10% of its staff based in India, would be able to extend its reach more easily into countries where Ramboll already had a presence.
But he said Ramboll Group, the Danish-based engineering group that has over 9,000 staff and a €810m (£709m) turnover, had not finished its acquisition drive.

“They are looking for 15% growth a year, 10% acquisition and 5% organic,” he said.

“[There will be] further growth in the UK.”

Gifford has 605 employees and 147 chartered engineers. Ramboll has 446 staff, with 178 chartered engineers.

Canadine said the Gifford name would last until the end of 2011, and the two companies were now discussing how they would integrate across the country.

“We have to look at moving offices,” he said. “[There’s] some spare space in Newman Street [Ramboll UK’s central London office].”

Both companies emphasised that the details of the merger were yet to be finalised.Canadine said that 2011 turnover and staff numbers at Gifford would be “stable”.