Exova to sell two Scottish labs in £18m Eurofins deal

Materials testing specialist Exova has agreed to sell ten laboratories '“ including two in Scotland '“ as part of an £18 million deal with Eurofins Scientific.

Exova is selling labs in Edinburgh and Hillington. Picture: Contributed

The Edinburgh-based group said the sale of its food, water and pharmaceutical business in the UK and Ireland would help it focus on other areas such as aerospace and industrial products testing.

The sale, to Luxembourg-based Eurofins, includes a pharmaceuticals testing lab in Edinburgh and a water testing facility in Hillington, Glasgow, which together employ 36 people. The other sites are spread across Birmingham, Camberley, Cork and Grimsby.

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Exova chief executive Ian El-Mokadem said: “The sale of our food, water and pharmaceutical business in the UK and Ireland allows us to dedicate significantly more financial and management resource to growing in sectors where we can build on our market leading positions in technically demanding services such as fire, transportation, aerospace, industrials and infrastructure related testing.”

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The ten laboratories – three for food, five for water and two for pharmaceutical products testing – employ more than 300 staff and generated revenues of about £20m last year. The sale is expected to complete in July.

Eurofins chief executive Gilles Martin said: “These laboratories represent a good strategic fit for Eurofins as they reinforce our food and water testing footprint in the UK and Ireland, and give us a foothold to roll out our globally-renowned competencies in pharmaceutical products testing in the UK, where we did not yet have a laboratory in this business line.

“I believe that this transaction is very positive for both Eurofins and Exova, as it enables each party to focus its resources and leadership on their core areas of testing. By enabling more focused investments and access to a global portfolio of tests and technologies, as well as higher economies of scale, this should also be a very positive development for clients and other stakeholders in the UK and Ireland.”

The deal was announced as Exova, which floated in 2014, said revenues during the four months to the end of April rose 12.7 per cent on a constant currency basis, with 11 per cent of that growth coming from acquisitions.

Eight takeovers were completed in 2015 and the group bought a majority stake in Singapore-based construction-focused testing firm Admaterials in February.

Exova is predicting “modest” organic growth for the full year, and El-Mokadem said he was “pleased” with its performance in the first four months.

He added: “Organic growth is in line with our expectations, demonstrating the strength of our portfolio and business model, and we continue to make very good progress with acquisitions.

“The announcement of the sale of our UK and Ireland food, water and pharmaceutical business enables us to focus our resources where we see the best growth opportunities for the group.”