McNicholas vans and work crews are a familiar site digging up UK streets for utility companies. It is also active in power, water, renewable energy and the rail sector, as well as telecommunications and gas. Clients include Virgin Media, Network Rail and UK Power Networks.
From its headquarters in Elstree, Hertfordshire it employs 1,880 people.
The purchase price paid by Kier was not disclosed but is believed to be around £18m.
Kier chief executive Haydn Mursell said: “The acquisition of McNicholas builds on Kier’s strategy to accelerate growth and hold leading positions in its chosen markets. It is a highly complementary addition to our utility services business and enhances our presence in the power, rail and telecoms markets, with its long-standing client relationships. We are delighted that Barry and his team will remain with Kier to continue the growth and development of the business.”
Barry McNicholas, chief executive of McNicholas, said: “Our business has been servicing the rapidly growing telecommunications industry for over fifty years and our expertise and knowledge has given us leading positions in new sectors such as gas, power, rail and civil engineering. We are excited by the opportunities that joining a larger group gives our teams to expand and grow. It also provides our clients access to a broader range of capabilities. I and the team look forward to joining Kier and playing a role in delivering the Vision 2020 strategy.”
In the year ended 31st March 2016 McNicholas Construction Services generated revenues of £166m, up 18% from the previous year’s £141m, but made a pre-tax loss of £391,000. Operating profit was £176,000, down from £400,000 the previous year.
McNicholas Construction (Holdings) reported turnover of £180m, operating profit of £1.3m and pre-tax profit of £119,000.
In 2015 Kier paid £340m for consulting engineer and support services group Mouchel and in 2013 it paid £221m for May Gurney.