THE chief executive of Edwin James has said the Lanarkshire-based engineering group is eyeing more acquisitions with Brexit not expected to impact on its growth plans.

Derek Smith said Edwin James is in talks with two businesses based south of the border about potential seven figure deals after successfully integrating two English firms it bought last year.

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The success of the acquisitions has left directors of Edwin James convinced the company can achieve strong growth in coming years with its strategy of developing a national engineering services business.

Asked whether the group might take a pause in its expansion or cut investment amid the uncertainty about what Brexit will mean, Mr Smith said: “Absolutely not.”

He noted: “The UK market for us is our primary focus and we ultimately see lots of growth for what we are offering.”

Edwin James has not seen any indications that clients are changing their investment plans in response to the prospect of the UK leaving the European Union.

With headquarters in Uddingston, Edwin James provides services ranging from facilities management and upgrades to support for firms operating processing plants.

It is backed by the Aliter Capital private equity business founded by Billy Allan, who built up UK facilities management group EJ Stiell before its sale to Alfred McAlpine in 2002 and went on to lead the Asco oil and gas logistics operation.

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“Shareholders are pretty pleased with progress,” said Mr Smith.

Edwin James achieved around £8 million underlying profit on sales of £140m in the year to 28 February. The results are the first announced by the enlarged group.

Mr Smith noted it is on track to grow sales and underlying earnings in the current financial year.

The Peterborough Electrical & Mechanical Engineering (PEME) and Staffordshire-based WT Parker Group acquired by Edwin James in 2017 have achieved good growth since becoming part of the group.

The Scotland-based Ingen Technical Services and Korrie operations were part of Edwin James when Atelier first invested in that business.

The acquisitions Edwin James is considering would help the group broaden its geographic reach and add specialist capabilities.

Directors see plenty of scope to use bolt-on deals to supplement organic growth. Mr Smith said the group would consider bigger deals if suitable opportunities arose.

He took charge of Edwin James in November last year after holding senior roles at EJ Stiell, Asco and the Ramco oil services business.

His work has involved organising the businesses Edwin James acquired to target two main business streams. These are based on the provision of technical services connected with the built environment and process engineering support for manufacturers.

The group has gown employee numbers to more than 1,000, including around 400 in Scotland.

Mr Allan formed Aliter with Greig Brown and Andy Galloway, with whom he worked at EJ Stiell and Europa Support Services. The Aliter team includes private equity veteran Andrew Busby.

Aliter launched a £92 million fund to invest in small to mid-sized support services firms across the UK in March last year.

The fund made its first investment in Edwin James. It has also backed the Boston Networks IT support firm and the Ipsum utilities services operation.

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Mr Allan resigned as chairman of Bowleven in March last year, two weeks after five former directors of the firm were voted off the board of the oil and gas firm following a campaign led by the Crown Ocean Capital investment business. Shareholders rejected a resolution seeking Mr Allan's removal.

Bowleven moved its headquarters from Edinburgh to London following the boardroom shakeup.