marine services firm Gael Force has unveiled “ambitious” expansion plans after snapping up fellow fabricator Varis Engineering as it looks to grow its turnover five-fold to £50 million.
Inverness-based Gael Force, which was founded by managing director Stewart Graham in Stornoway in 1985 as a creel-making company, plans to create further jobs as it adds to Forres-based Varis’ 30 staff.
Gael Force – which employs 150 people in Inverness, Plymouth and Stornoway – specialises in the fishing, oil and gas and renewable energy sectors.
In comparison, Varis designs, makes and installs bridges, marinas and pontoons, as well as manufacturing and refurbishment work for distilleries and waste water treatment works.
Graham said: “Varis has been in our sights for quite some time. It is entirely complementary to what we do.
“The Gael Force management has plotted a course of aggressive growth over the next five years across the group to a level of £50m and this acquisition of Varis takes us a significant step towards that.”
But Graham remained tight-lipped over how much he had paid for the takeover target.
Eddie Tomkinson, retiring managing director of Varis, added: “After 17 years of building up Varis, it was important to me that we found a new owner who can secure the company’s future in Forres.”
Graham also unveiled plans to open up to three further marine equipment stores over the next five years. The firm already has a “megastore” in Inverness and an online shop.
Highland politicians – including Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander and enterprise minister Fergus Ewing – welcomed the deal, while Moray Council leader Allan Wright also hailed Gael Force’s expansion plans, saying it was “just what Forres needed”.
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