Highlands & Islands

Gael Force Group takes over Varis Engineering in Forres

Eddie Tomkinson and Stewart Graham
Image caption Varis boss Eddie Tomkinson, left, and Stewart Graham

Inverness-based marine equipment and services company Gael Force has acquired Varis Engineering in Forres.

The deal secures 30 posts and forms part of the Highland business's efforts to build its sales from £15m to £50m over the next five years.

Gael Force Group now employs 180 staff at bases in Stornoway, Inverness, Forres and Plymouth.

It supplies and manufactures equipment for maritime businesses, including fish farms.

Managing director Stewart Graham said Gael Force had been interested in Varis for some time.

He said: "They are entirely complementary to what we do and we will now be bringing the considerable management skills and resources of the Gael Force Group into the operation to drive our plans forward.

"The Gael Force management has plotted a course of aggressive growth over the next five years across the group to a level of £50m and this acquisition of Varis takes us a significant step towards that."

Eddie Tomkinson, retiring managing director of Varis, added: "After 17 years of building up Varis, it was important to me that we found a new owner who can secure the company's future in Forres, provide additional resources to expand on our achievements to date and drive the company forward."

Mr Graham founded his firm in 1983 in Stornoway on Lewis.

He started his business repairing lobster creels when he was a student at the town's Lews Castle College.

In 2011, he broke his back in Malaysia after coming off a motorbike during a round-the-world sailing trip with his wife.

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