The momentum within the industry to adopt modern methods of construction (MMC) appears to be unstoppable. Companies specialising in offsite modular techniques are at the forefront of a wave of innovative practices that will not only see projects completed faster at lower cost but with a heavily reduced carbon footprint and environmental impact.
ESS Group is recognised for its contribution to spreading the message about MMC. The company has headquarters in Manchester and Dublin, with three manufacturing sites and four offices across the UK and Ireland where it employs 280 people. In order to grow at the rate and to the extent needed as the construction industry tries to return to pre-pandemic levels of activity, ESS required a financial boost.
In a move that is a very positive one for the industry in general and MMC in particular, the contractor and fit-out specialist ISG has bought a majority stake in ESS Group. This comes just two years after the acquisition by ESS of the construction integration specialist Spatial Initiative, a UK-based company that builds schools and is part of several Department for Education frameworks. This extended the reach of ESS further into its core markets of public sector, healthcare and commercial construction. Now the massive injection of funding from ISG can build on this, increasing capacity and adding new resources and R&D capabilities.
Paul Tierney is the CEO of ESS and he explained the importance of the move: "The ISG investment is a pivotal moment for the ESS Group, giving us a solid financial platform for our continued growth plans. We passionately believe in a better way and have been working for the last 30 years to bring high-quality offerings to our clients. We are looking forward to what we are sure will be an exciting time for the industry as we see MMC continue to transform customer outcomes and expectations in the drive towards a net zero future."
For ISG, the majority shareholding gives access to significant MMC capabilities in offsite construction which is less labour-intensive and reduces the production of embodied carbon. ISG's CEO Matt Blowers expressed his expectations for the future: "Greater integration and collaboration are two ways that our industry can accelerate its performance to meet the growing demand for net zero construction solutions.
The ESS Group brings a wealth of expertise, talent and innovation into ISG and enables us to collectively fast-track our journey developing and implementing leading-edge built solutions that are rooted in operational performance and the highest sustainable and ethical outcomes."
The move makes both financial and strategic sense. Both companies have long recognised the degree to which MMC is integral to the sustainable future of construction. ISG has needed a way into this next-gen technological solution and ESS opens the door for them. ESS required investment to take advantage of new opportunities in current and future public sector frameworks. In coming together, they have helped to secure each other's futures.
ISG was taken over in 2016 by the US equity firm Cathexis and has had a rocky time since then, with the Covid-19 pandemic hitting its fortunes very hard in 2020. Revenue fell by £500,000 but the company has managed to remain profitable throughout and is now emerging from the tunnel ready to embrace the future