Engineering consulting firm Ramboll launches new four year plan

25 July 2017 Consultancy.uk

On the back of the best financial year in its history, engineering and consulting firm Ramboll, has devised an ambitious new four year plan. Major investment in US and German markets, along with a new “spearhead” philosophy of innovative ‘strike-force-style’ units aim to see Ramboll fortify its position in the energy and engineering markets, while acting as catalysts for the firm's global expansion.

Ramboll has announced a new four year strategy, having posted a solid year-on-year result for 2016, as their previous five year plan drew to a close. The new “Winning Together” scheme comes after the firm hit its highest earnings before interest, taxes, and amortisation (EBITA) in history.

Under the “Winning Together” plan, the firm will aim to build an increasingly client-centric culture, while further bolstering its international presence. Rather than being a complete reinvention of the wheel however, the plan is largely a thematic overhaul of what the company already practices – which in the light of their 2016 results seems to work well.

Ramboll post solid 2016 results  and launches new five-year strategy

Growth remains the key pillar of Ramboll’s renewed corporate strategy, with the firm aiming to promote a growing market share both through innovative organic practice, and merger and acquisition (M&A) activity.

The most attractive markets for investment right now remain the US, Germany and the Nordics. Top of the list is the US with Ramboll’s current North American operations dominated by the 1,000-strong environment and health contingent of Environ. The firm is meanwhile keen to bolster the sectors it is more-widely known for in Western Europe such as water, energy, urban planning and design using its Environ operation as a springboard. Ramboll’s continued interest in the US comes in spite of the election of Donald Trump, a cause for concern among many investing in renewables, given his attitude towards climate change and the EPA. However, while the firm does expect a drop in the federal enforcement work they are contracted for regarding the environment, they are moving to position themselves strongly within the infrastructure development, oil & gas and mining sectors too, which are all likely beneficiaries of the Trump administration.

Meanwhile, Ramboll is also setting its sights on Germany with “large investment” expected in German infrastructure markets in coming years - particularly in energy and transport. The firm acquired two German on shore wind consultancies in the second half of 2016, and according to CEO Jens-Peter Saul, further acquisitions remain a key element of the strategy as they have not discounted the prospect of another large-scale acquisition. “Yes we might buy big, but big is not always beautiful - we look to build strength and depth. While it is easy to buy big companies it is not easy to buy good companies,” he stated, alluding to the firm’s major aim of organic expansion.

One of the key techniques employed by the firm in order to hopefully deliver this expansion, is a new “spearhead” philosophy, which after strong results last year, Ramboll aims to push ahead with to create ‘strike-force-style’ units. These units can subsequently offer services in specific areas like energy-from-waste and offshore wind in locales where their parent company have yet to fully permeate or maintain a permanent presence within the market, without the need to establish a permanent base there first. The group aim to do this through the development of teams of leading professionals which can remain nimble and bid for work in countries where it has a lower on-the-ground presence, in order to build and heighten market visibility. These markets include the Middle East and Asia, where so far the consulting firm do not have a strong and broad presence.

Previous experience

The firm’s ‘strike-force’ units already came into play in 2016, as the tactic was piloted particularly in numerous large-scale global projects at radically different locales, including the Chinese SPIC Binhai North Phase 2 Offshore Wind Farm, as well as a range of sustainability programmes in the EU, and several climate change mitigation projects, including ones in San Francisco and New York.

In addition, the firm has worked on a range of smaller scale projects, such as supporting the BAS move their Antarctic research base and supporting the European Southern Observatory with logistics, among others. The diversification of the projects they were involved in clearly paid dividends, too. With an uptick in total revenues, along with a considerable increase in profitability, of more than DKK100 million to DKK179.6 million, the firm’s operating profit before goodwill amortisation (EBITA) hit DKK602 million, a 27% increase on the year previous. Meanwhile the firm’s EBITA margin was up 1.2% to 5.7%, the firm’s highest EBITA margin in its history. The financial results give a key grounding to the “Winning Together” strategy of the coming four years.

During that period the firm saw its revenues increase by 54% and EBITA by nearly 70%, even in the face of the challenging environment in certain commodities. The firm has also increased its international calibre, with 74% of revenue now generated internationally.

According to Ramboll CEO Saul, the new plan has the firm well positioned to continue growth beyond the well-defined elements of the pre-existing market. “In Germany, the US and the Nordics we want to go deeper into the market, by expanding our footprint and office space,” said Saul. “But there are some regions we can't claim such a strong footprint so we want to go in light and sharp with high-level competency that no matter where we go we can outcompete much bigger and well established competitors.”

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