RSK Group plc acquires site investigation services firm Ian Farmer Associates

December 01, 2017
  • This acquisition presents synergistic growth opportunities for both businesses.
  • It provides RSK with new services to add to its fast-growing environmental, engineering and technical support services business.
  • Ian Farmer Associates principals together have more than 50 years’ experience in site investigations across all sectors.

London, 29 November 2017 – RSK has today announced that it has acquired the business, operating assets and employees engaged in the business of Ian Farmer Associates, a site investigation services company working throughout the UK.

The acquisition sees the Ian Farmer Associates business, including over 100 employees at 8 sites across the UK, transferring to RSK, where it will continue to operate under the leadership of Ken Marsh, John Marsh, Roy Smith and Adam Latimer. Ian Farmer Associates will become a key part of RSK’s Geosciences and Engineering division, which is run by George Tuckwell. The Ian Farmer Associates brand will be retained and the business will continue to operate as Ian Farmer Associates, a wholly owned subsidiary of RSK.

Permira Debt Managers has backed RSK in making the acquisition as part of a £140-million funding package agreed earlier this year, to include around 10 acquisitions for the group.

This latest acquisition expands RSK’s footprint as one of the biggest natural and built environment consultancies in the UK. It also provides a great opportunity to extend its coverage into the north-east of England and to bring laboratory testing expertise and facilities in-house.

Ian Farmer Associates has been carrying out ground investigations since 1985 and has built a strong client base of consulting engineers, builders, developers, architects, utilities, local authorities and government organisations. Its principal areas of work are in ground investigation covering geotechnical and geoenvironmental services, along with construction and built environment services.

With an annual turnover of £10 million and with 108 members of staff, Ian Farmer Associates is one of the top five ground investigation specialists out of 60 such organisations in the UK. With its head office in Washington, Tyne and Wear, it also has regional offices in Coventry, Harpenden, Llanelli, Motherwell, Warrington and Redruth. Each regional centre is managed by an experienced practitioner and staffed by experienced and qualified engineers and geologists.

Additionally, Ian Farmer Associates provides specialist services from materials technologists and on-site chemists, with associated testing and monitoring services. It offers a complete range of geotechnical and geoenvironmental investigation techniques and services, including soil exploration by percussion boring, window sampling and mechanical excavation; rock exploration by rotary drilling and coring; instrumentation and monitoring; in-situ tests such as plate loading, California bearing ratio and density including nuclear density gauges.

Its ground investigation service is supported by its UKAS-accredited laboratory for geotechnical testing and a material testing laboratory to support the construction and built environment services. Ian Farmer Associates is able to offer competitive testing for contamination contained in soil and water samples in association with national analytical testing company laboratories.

Its construction engineering team undertakes projects throughout the UK and provides a broad range of services to the built environment. These include structural and condition surveys alongside investigative surveys to determine both the structural detailing and condition of a wide variety of structures from marine structures and bridges to residential and retail developments. Ian Farmer Associates has extensive experience in determining the condition of reinforced concrete structures and investigative surveys for this type of construction. Ian Farmer Associates also has a UKAS-accredited concrete laboratory that carries out a broad range of testing on both wet and hardened concrete.

Today’s announcement marks a significant and extremely positive step in the development of the RSK and Ian Farmer Associates businesses that offers potential long-term benefits for clients and staff. The clients of RSK and Ian Farmer Associates are complementary: both businesses are extremely strong and highly respected in their core markets and provide high-quality scientific consultancy and technical engineering advice to a wide range of clients in the private and public sectors.

According to the 2016 UK industry Market Trends report, RSK ranked as the ninth overall environmental consultancy, the second for contaminated land/remediation and the fifth for environmental management and compliance. This latest acquisition will likely see RSK’s profile grow in the industry’s important rankings. RSK has acquired 13 environmental and analysis firms across Europe and the Middle East in the past decade and has seen impressive growth during that time that has helped to create a £100-million-turnover business.

RSK’s advisers on the acquisition were Dow Schofield Watts Transaction Services LLP (due diligence), Dow Schofield Watts Corporate Finance Ltd (corporate finance) and Memery Crystal LLP (legal). Ian Farmer Associates’ advisors were Clive Owen LLP (corporate finance) and Tilly Bailey & Irvine LLP (legal).

Dr Alan Ryder, Chief Executive Officer, RSK Group, said: “I am delighted to welcome Ian Farmer Associates to the RSK family. The company has extremely experienced and skilled professionals who share our common values. RSK and Ian Farmer Associates see the provision of the highest quality environmental services to enable excellent infrastructure projects of all kinds, while at the same time delivering the best solutions for our clients, as a top priority. These shared values will see both organisations strengthened and consequently many competitive advantages made available to our customers.”

John Marsh, Ian Farmer Associates Director, said: “Joining forces with such a distinguished and compatible firm as RSK makes for a very strong relationship that offers us the opportunity to provide our existing clients with new services and to expand our expertise and offerings across the RSK portfolio.”

Dan Hatcher, Permira Debt Managers investor: “Permira is proud to help ambitious businesses with vision and such compatibility as RSK and Ian Farmer move forward with sustainable growth plans. RSK’s expansion and growing portfolio of expertise shows a bright future for the group. The funding package also demonstrates Permira’s commitment to support successful UK companies with global operations.”

Notes to editors:


RSK is a fully integrated, environmental, health, safety and engineering services company employing over 1800 staff in offices across the UK and worldwide. In 2016, RSK was awarded the prestigious Queen’s Award for Enterprise in international trade, one of the UK’s highest accolades for business success. With a turnover of over £100 million, the company was ranked the ninth largest UK environmental consultancy by Environment Analyst in its 2016 Market Assessment Report.

RSK provides independent environmental consultancy and technical services in the areas of the environment, health and safety, engineering and sustainability management to industrial, financial and public-sector clients in the UK and abroad.

RSK has a diverse client base but mainly services key accounts for clients in energy, property, manufacturing, water, government and transport.

The company is certified to the ISO 9001, ISO 14001 and OHSAS 18001 international standards for quality, environmental management and health and safety management.

Ian Farmer Associates

Ian Farmer Associates has been carrying out ground investigations since 1985. It carries out ground investigation work covering geotechnical and environmental services, along with construction and built environment services.

Ian Farmer Associates operates across the UK, with its laboratories externally accredited by UKAS. All offices are accredited to ISO 14001, the environmental standard, and ISO 9001, the business quality standard. The company is also accredited to UVDB Verify, The Railway Industry Supplier Qualification Scheme (RISQS), the Contractors Health and Safety Assessment Scheme and the Safe Contractor Scheme, all of which will be augmented by future accreditation to OHSAS 18001:2007, the safety standard. Health and safety compliance is externally monitored by retained advisors and through ISO 9001:2008 and ISO 14001:2004, which are internally and externally audited.

The company is on the approved term contracts/framework agreements for several clients including the Highways Agency, many city, metropolitan and county councils, Scottish Enterprise, Bouygues (UK), the Coal Authority and United Utilities as well as the approved vendors list for utilities such as British Gas/Transco and National Grid.

Any press queries should be directed to James Eisen, +44 (0)7961 464154

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