Space Solutions eyeing acquisitions as sales hold firm

Workplace design specialist Space Solutions is closing in on acquisitions to drive growth following a year in which the firm held its own against the downturn in the North-east of Scotland.

Space Solutions director of strategy Derek Binnie, left, with managing director Steve Judge. Picture: Stewart Attwood
Space Solutions director of strategy Derek Binnie, left, with managing director Steve Judge. Picture: Stewart Attwood

Revenues of £36 million during the year to the end of June matched those of the previous 12 months despite a sharp decline in activity in and around Aberdeen, where Space Solutions was established in 1997. Pre-tax profits, which are still subject to final audit, also held steady at roughly £250,000.

Turnover reached a 50-50 geographic balance for the first time as the decline in income from the North-east was offset by a surge in the Central Belt. During the last two years, the latter has doubled revenues.

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The company, which employs 230 people in Aberdeen, Dundee, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Livingston, expects to make further announcements later this year about potential acquisitions which it is pursing. One of these involves a designer of specialist workplaces based in the Central Belt, though the firm is also examining opportunities outside of Scotland, particularly in England’s “Northern Powerhouse”.

Leading this will be Derek Binnie, one of the group’s major shareholders who was previously director for the Central Belt and has now taken up responsibility for strategic growth across the group.

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“We have invested heavily in our team and infrastructure this year, expanded our range of services and along with building stronger links with the property community as a whole we feel we are in really good shape for the future,” Binnie said.

Space Solutions is working in partnership with “a number” of organisations on projects outside of Scotland, including national clients in need of consultant services in workplaces in other parts of the UK. It also has a handful of public sector projects currently underway in Manchester. “If the right prospect came along, we would very much have an appetite to progress,” Binnie said when asked about potential expansion further afield.

Demand in the Central Belt has been driven by a lack of new commercial property construction which has persuaded owners and occupiers to refurbish existing premises. On the public sector side, austerity measures have led to the merger of services, which in turn is creating the need for more efficient workspaces to cut down on overheads.

The latter type of work is prevalent in both the public and private sectors in the North-east, where the oil and gas industry is battling the downturn in prices.

The firm’s consultancy services help employers decide how to best design an office to accommodate changing working practices. This includes better use of space amid the rise of remote working – which can increase productivity and reduce costs – as well as creating an environment to attract and retain top staff.