Employee ownership pays off for Merlin ERD

Merlin ERD managing director Iain Hutchison
Merlin ERD managing director Iain Hutchison

Perth-based engineering firm Merlin ERD has celebrated a record seven-figure profit in the first full year since moving to employee ownership.

Merlin is a world leader in the design and delivery of horizontal, extended reach and complex high angle wells.

Its services are sought all over the world, with the firm operating in 40 countries last year.

Managing director Iain Hutchison, who founded the firm, said the move to employee ownership had been extremely positive.

“We wanted to secure the business in Perth,” he said.

“I believe that if we can engage the leadership team and the staff then we’ve got a far more robust, resilient business and we’re going to go further.

“It’s a great tool to attract the best possible calibre of people.

“The better the people are who work with us, the better the leadership team, the stronger the business and therefore the more prosperity there is for the people working in the business and the local area.”

Merlin has 15 staff and works with around 40 consultants a year.

As well as on site rig support, it also provides engineering studies and training.

Mr Hutchison said Merlin had previously experienced high sales growth – and also a dip during the oil and gas downturn.

“Since we first turned over £1 million seven years ago, our average growth every year has been 25% – and that includes the downturn where our turnover dropped 68%,” he said.

“It was difficult during the downturn but we remained in profit and retained all of our technical team.

“It was tough but we got through the other side. Last year was Merlin getting back to business.”

Around 80% of its sales are from overseas, which has led to the firm previously winning two Queen’s Awards for Enterprise.

Mr Hutchison said he was proud at the revenues his firm had created for the Tayside economy.

“We brought Merlin to Tayside in 2007 and since then we’ve brought in £24m which could have gone anywhere.

“We’ve added huge value for clients and attracted some really talented engineers from overseas.”

Mr Hutchison said the firm had invested heavily in developing engineering software, which it is examining how to commercialise.

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