A CHEMICALS detection firm in which energy giants ConocoPhillips and Statoil bought stakes earlier this year is expanding into Aberdeen and has picked a senior oil industry figure as its first chief executive.
Charles Cruickshank, a former business development director at FTSE 100 energy services giant Petrofac, will help to turn Edinburgh-based Lux Assure from a research and development (R&D) outfit into a services provider.
ConocoPhillips and Statoil pumped £3.25 million into the company in February alongside Archangel Informal Investments and the Scottish Investment Bank (SIB).
Cruickshank has spent 27 years in the oil and gas industry, most recently with Petrofac’s engineering consultancy services business and previously with subsea specialist Flexlife, where he helped the firm to start working abroad.
Emma Perfect, managing director and chief scientific officer at Lux Assure, told The Scotsman: “Charles has many years’ experience in oil and gas sales and services on the integrity side of the industry, which is a fairly hot topic because of lots of leaks and other issues.
“He brings all that experience that we need to grow the business and transform ourselves into a service company. He will also help us to expand overseas.”
Cruickshank added: “This is a very busy and exciting time for Lux and I’m delighted to be on board to help drive the company forward and be part of its ambitious plans.”
Cruickshank will split his time between Lux Assure’s Aberdeen and Edinburgh offices. The company’s headcount is expected to double to 12 over the course of the next year, with at least three posts being created in Aberdeen.
Founded in 2001 as Lux Biotechnology, the company has in the past adapted life sciences testing methods for use in a variety of fields.
Lux Assure decided to focus solely on the oil and gas industry in 2009 and since then has received £800,000 in two rounds of backing from Archangels and SIB, which runs Scottish Enterprise’s Scottish Venture Fund.
Perfect said that the company had grown its turnover to £135,325 in the year to 31 May, 2012, from £109,962 in the previous 12 months.
The firm received R&D tax credits worth a “six-figure sum” over a number of years, which Perfect said had helped “give us a fighting chance to get to the point we find ourselves in today”.
Barbara McQuillan, a partner at accountancy firm Henderson Loggie, which helped Lux Assure secure the tax breaks, said: “A lot of people just associate R&D with lab coats, but it’s much wider than that. Engineering companies, manufacturing companies, farming businesses and any business that’s making an advance in science and technology to overcome a challenge can use them.”