Lanarkshire lab services group wins ‘substantial’ deal to support acquisitions

Lanarkshire laboratory services firm Crawford Scientific is returning to the acquisition trail after securing a refinancing deal with Clydesdale Bank.

The private equity-backed firm is back on the takeover trail following US and English buyouts in recent years. Picture: Kalinovsky Dmitry

The Strathaven business said it is targeting expansion through organic and acquisitive growth following the refinancing, which a source for the company described as a “very substantial” package.

Crawford Scientific, which is backed by London-based ­private equity investor Limerston Capital, provides outsourced analytical testing services, training and other services to the laboratory research and testing sector.

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Limerston bought out Maven Capital in 2017 to acquire a majority stake in Crawford Scientific. The Lanarkshire firm has since extended its presence to the US through the acquisition of VR Analytical, a laboratory based in Bend, Oregon.

It has also broadened its products and services to include sample preparation automation following the takeover of Cambridge laboratory supplier Anatune.

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The refinancing package has allowed Crawford Scientific to return a “significant portion” of capital to investors.

Crawford Scientific chief executive Sam Crawford said: “The investment from Limerston Capital has been vital to our acquisition strategy and growth over the last two years and we are delighted to continue working with Clydesdale Bank as our business partner.

"Their continued support is a result of the exceptional performance our management team has delivered over the last two years since Limerston’s involvement and our shared view of exciting opportunities ahead for the group.”

Turnover at Crawford Scientific increased by 7 per cent to £14.5 million in 2018, while profits climbed £500,000 higher to £2.3m.

A spokesperson for Limerston Capital said: “Crawford Scientific has seen significant investment and growth since our investment in 2017, benefiting from both strong organic growth and a successful acquisition strategy. The ­refinancing has enabled Limerston Capital to return funds to our limited partners and provides the business with a capital structure which will allow the management team to continue with the organic growth and acquisition strategies.”

Stuart Donald, senior director of corporate and structured finance at Clydesdale Bank, added: “[Crawford Scientific’s] management team have a strong track record in the sector, and our assistance will put them in a stronger position to scale-up as they pursue further growth.”