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RSE buys Blackburn Starling to take water industry lead

29 June, 2021

The Scottish engineering group RSE is buying the Nottingham-based manufacturer and systems integrator Blackburn Starling & Co for an undisclosed sum. RSE sees the deal as a pivotal move in establishing itself as the UK’s leading Meica (mechanical, electrical, instrumentation, controls and automation) contractor to the water treatment and recycling market.

The deal will see RSE take a majority share in Blackburn Starling, backing a management buyout led by operations director, Jason Smith.

Blackburn Starling is the third of four acquisitions planned for RSE this year, which should take the company’s revenues to more than £130m. The previous two acquisitions were TCL, the Leeds-based designer and manufacturer of low-voltage switchgear, motor control centres, relay protection panels and control panels, and Sheers, a Darlington-based company that supplies modular chemical dosing and control systems to the water, chemical and UK energy sectors. The identity of the fourth target has not been revealed yet.

RSE is owned by Envoy & Partners whose founders are building a portfolio of industrial service groups, including RSE. Envoy's CEO Iain MacGregor is aiming to build a specialist technology contractor to the UK water sector with revenues exceeding £250m.

Blackburn Starling, founded in 1870, built a reputation in the early 1900s as a supplier of electrical lighting switchboards to London’s West End theatres. Today, it is one of the UK’s largest designers and manufacturers of low- and high-voltage switchboards and control systems, operating from a 4.5-acre purpose-built factory in central Nottingham.

“When added to previous acquired businesses Saftronics and TCS, the Blackburn Starling deal establishes RSE as the largest control systems capability in the UK market,” says RSE's managing director, Allan Dallas. “The additional technical skills and manufacturing capacity will enable RSE to fulfil demand for its innovative modular treatment plants, whilst opening up new doors to customers in England and Wales.”

Jason Smith points out that the Blackburn Starling brand has “an amazing heritage”, and that many of its 100+ staff have worked there for many years. “We are expecting the transition into RSE to create new opportunities to grow the business and create opportunity for our employees,” he adds.

Blackburn Starling manufactures low- and high-voltage switchboards and control systems

“Whilst keeping the brand and heritage of the company intact, I’m excited to more closely integrate with the RSE teams throughout the country,” Smith continues. “We believe RSE’s modular technology offering is game-changing in the UK water sector, which was the management’s primary attraction to supporting the acquisition.”

RSE (Ross-Shire Engineering), whose headquarters are in Muir of Ord, specialises in the design, build and maintenance of water reatment and recycling equipment. It has more than 1,100 staff.

RSELinkedIn  Facebook

Blackburn StarlingLinkedIn  Facebook

Envoy & PartnersLinkedIn

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