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Turner & Townsend targets US acquisitions as profit jumps

Turner & Townsend is to target further acquisitions and expansion in North America after reporting a healthy rise in annual turnover and profit.

Speaking to Construction News, CEO and chairman Vincent Clancy said the consultant is continuing to look at global acquisitions and is “particularly interested” in the North American market.

Mr Clancy said the region is attractive due to its scale, demand for infrastructure and client base.

“It (North America) is a huge market compared to here in the UK, there is a huge amount of pent-up investment required to renew infrastructure, and the best corporates in the world are there,” he said.

“Our business model is based on servicing global corporates around the world and for us to have a strong presence in North America reinforces that.”

Other firms that have announced plans to expand in the US so far this year include UK-based contractors ISG and Mace.

Turner & Townsend, which has 97 offices in 41 countries, will also explore further acquisitions in Europe and in advisory businesses.

Mr Clancy said it will “continue to look at bolt-on acquisitions” after buying three businesses in the last 12-18 months.

Turner & Townsend has already acquired asset management firm AMCL, lean construction specialist Suiko and US-based consultant Trestle.

Mr Clancy was speaking after the consultant posted a 20 per cent jump in turnover to £491m for the year to 30 April 2017, alongside a 20 per cent rise in EBITA to £47m. 

In the UK, the firm’s revenue increased 18.3 per cent to £212.5m.

In its Middle East business revenue jumped 42 per cent to £45.6m. The firm is involved in many of the big infrastructure projects across the region, including the expansion of Al-Maktoum Airport near Dubai, alongside data centres and manufacturing projects, Mr Clancy said. 

He added that although Carillion had announced it would exit key markets in the Middle East including Egypt, Qatar and Saudi Arabia, the region is still seen as a major growth market for Turner & Townsend.

“[Contractors exiting the market] does concern me to a degree, but we’re very used to operating in volatile markets, and our business model is different from contractors. The fact we have that diversity [in the business] does insulate us,” he said.

In the UK, the firm is working with Heathrow Airport on its planned expansion, and Mr Clancy remained positive it would push forward despite a vote on the third runway expansion being delayed until next year.

“UK plc needs to add capacity as quickly as possible, so I’d urge government to make those decisions as early as possible because it’s important that we bring that capacity online,” he said.

Recent contract wins for Turner & Townsend include a place on the government’s £2.9bn Crown Commercial Services consultancy framework, and a £400m procurement deal with the Ministry of Defence alongside Gardiner & Theobald and Mace.

It is also among four firms battling to win the cost consultancy role on the £369m revamp of Buckingham Palace, as revealed by Construction News in June this year.

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