Global giant swoops on capital archaeologist

An Edinburgh-headquartered archaeology firm that has worked on projects including the Aberdeen bypass is eyeing new opportunities for growth after being snapped up by a global engineering and environmental services operator.

Headland MD Tim Holden (centre) with RSK's Sarah Mogford and Alan Ryder. Picture: Contributed

Headland Archaeology, which has 170 staff across its four UK offices, has been acquired by RSK Group as the engineering giant continues its rapid expansion strategy.

Full details of the deal were not disclosed, but Headland confirmed that no jobs would be affected by the move as it looks to “enhance the business” and “provide staff with new opportunities” as a result of the deal.

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The firm has offices in Leeds, Hereford and Luton, as well as Scotland.

On the back of the deal, RSK, which has offices in Glasgow and Aberdeen, said it has now become the “largest, most profitable provider of archaeological services” in the UK by turnover.

Headland’s current leadership team, including managing director Tim Holden, is to join RSK and will “continue to drive the business forward” as part of the group.

The Scottish firm will become part of RSK’s environment and planning division, under the direction of Sarah Mogford, while RSK’s existing archaeology and heritage business will merge with Headland’s consultancy team. Headland provides commercial archaeology services to the development and ­construction sectors.

Its projects have included mitigation works on the Aberdeen bypass and the £445 million M74 Completion Project near Glasgow.

Regarding the latter, the range of archaeology excavated covered an iron foundry and associated workers’ housing, a large pottery site, an entire block of 19th century tenements, a biscuit factory, a cotton mill and owner’s house and an urban limeworks. A Discovery Centre was opened for the duration of the project.

RSK announced that the latest acquisition – the group’s 11th in the financial year 2018/19 – will boost its overall headcount to more than 3,000.

Holden said: “This is a very exciting time for Headland Archaeology. We have differentiated ourselves in a market saturated by the not-for-profit sector to build a robust, commercial business that puts clients’ needs first. Joining with RSK will further enhance the business, enable us to build on our strengths, and provide our staff with new opportunities.”

RSK has embarked on a series of acquisitions after receiving its latest funding package from Ares Capital Europe and a revolving credit facility provided by NatWest, secured in December 2018.

This deal will extend RSK’s capabilities “geographically and in terms of service provisions” to its existing and potential clients.

It serves a range of industries with key accounts in the energy, property, manufacturing, water, government and transport sectors.

RSK founder and chief executive Alan Ryder said: “I am excited to welcome Headland Archaeology into RSK because, like us, their people and clients are at the core of what they are about.

“The success that the business has already seen is a testament to their leaders and all their employees. I am looking forward to what we can achieve together.”