Peter Brett Associates last week furthered its growth ambitions through a merger with river and coastal engineering specialist Martin Wright Associates (MWA).
The merger with the Chester-based firm will add 15 to Peter Brett’s water team, helping it capitalise on new opportunities in flood and coastal defence.
The merger is the fourth such move in three years for Peter Brett, which aims to grow from 450 staff to 800 in the five years from 2013 to 2018.
Last year it acquired 85-strong civil and structural engineering firm Hannah Reed & Associates. This followed 2011 mergers with planning consultants Roger Tym & Partners and Baker Associates.
As of 1 January the firm employed 474 staff; but this number did not include Hannah Reed. With Hannah Reed, organic growth since January and now the Martin Wright deal the number of employees is now over 600.
Peter Brett is determined that most of the growth will come organically.
“We will grow sustainably,” managing partner Paul Reilly told NCE last month. “And the number one way is recruiting graduates and technicians.
“That’s the way you get long-term cultural fit - grow your own. The second way is to get good teams of people from other firms. That’s great too.
“Acquisitions are definitely the last way. But if a firm is a good cultural fit and has good technical strengths, then we have to look at them on a case by case basis,” explained Reilly.
The Martin Wright deal fits that model with the two firms having worked together for almost 15 years.
“Our relationship with MWA goes back some 15 years. We have worked on several projects together and already have a good rapport,” said Peter Brett partner Paul Jenkin, adding that there were good opportunities in the coastal defences market.
“There are great opportunities for our combined team, in particular in coastal engineering,” he said. “The events of this winter have reinforced the need to have these skills in-house.”