Score group is to be sold to a private equity firm for £120 million.
Founded by Charles Ritchie in 1982 the firm, which is now Peterhead’s biggest employer, has remained family run for decades.
But now the business is set to look to the future as SCF partners are preparing to buy the business from the Charles Ritchie Family Trust which was set up in the wake of the founder’s death.
The Trustees, made up of his wife and sons, said they saw it as their duty to deliver his ambition of securing long-term prosperity for the business, its employees and the local economy.
And last night the private equity firm pledged to continue to support the company’s global growth and insisted they remain committed to Peterhead and the north-east economy.
Score Group currently turnsover £200 million with work across 14 countries, employing 1,900 people with more than 800 in the north-east.
Having steered the business through the period following Mr Ritchie’s death, the board – led by chairman Keith Cochrane – and the trust set out to find a buyer who would respect the founder’s legacy.
Mr Cochrane said: “In SCF Partners, we have found a buyer that understands Charles’ ambitions for the business. These were to ensure the long-term growth of the company, creating and safe-guarding opportunities for its employees and maintaining its positive impact on the north-east of Scotland.
“SCF Partners will provide capital to enable Score to continue investing in its services and growing its global footprint.
“Crucially, this deal will maintain Score’s independence as a market leader in the supply and repair of valves to the oil and gas, nuclear and marine industries.”
The new owners, he said, are committed to supporting the development and advancement of Score’s workforce and to anchoring the company’s head-quarters and global centre of excellence in Peterhead.
Mr Ritchie’s sons, Conrad and Nelson, stepped in to manage the business following their father’s death and said they will now move to new consultancy roles to help ensure a smooth transition.
Nelson said: “This deal represents a new chapter for the business, its employees and the family.
“I am hugely proud of what we have achieved at Score and our excellent reputation locally but also, increasingly, around the world. Through our on-going investment in international expansion and customer service, we have built a firm foundation that provides significant opportunity for sustainable, global growth.”
Conrad added: “We are fortunate to have a unique culture at Score. Our people-focused approach is what has made this business special. It’s also what makes us successful and profitable.
“Over the years, those profits have been invested back into the business to further our global growth, enhance our service capability and, most importantly, to train and develop our people.
“This home-grown pipeline of talent is the backbone of Score and a huge part of the family’s legacy. I am confident we have found the right fit with SCF Partners who understand and respect this legacy.”
SCF Partners are specialist investors in energy services with 30 years’ experience of building businesses in North America, Scotland, the Middle East and Australia.
Colin Welsh, International Partner of SCF Partners added: “The Ritchie family has built a terrific company. We are excited to partner with the management team to take the business to the next level. SCF is particularly well positioned to support Score in further developing its international operations in Houston, the Middle East and Australia where the firm has both experience and investments in other service companies”.
Mr Welsh will take over the position of chairman of Score while Peter Stuart of SCF Partners will become interim chief executive.
Specialist corporate finance advisers to the energy industry, Simmons Energy, advised on the deal. Managing director, Nick Dalgarno, said: “Score is a true north-east success story and has an enviable international reputation throughout the industry.
“It’s rare that a family business like this comes to market and it was a privilege to have been chosen by the Trust to advise on the transaction.”
This transaction is expected to close in early 2020.