American giant reveals plan to sell off land at historic Glasgow site

·4-min read

By Scott Wright

THE American owner of the ClydeUnion engineering base on the south side of Glasgow has revealed plans to sell part of the site for residential development, declaring that the move will “future-proof” its presence in the area.

Celeros Flow Technology, which acquired the one-time Weir Pumps facility from SPX FLOW in 2020, is looking to raise cash to reinvest in the Cathcart site by offloading surplus land and buildings.

The company, which makes parts such as pumps, valves, filtration and closures for the renewable, defence, nuclear, oil and gas and water treatment sectors, has already agreed a sale and leaseback deal for its operational land and building – underlining its long-term commitment to the site.

A report from property firm Colliers this month stated that US-based Realty Income Corporation has purchased a 48,900 square foot industrial unit at the site for £33 million.

The Cathcart site comprises around 18 acres, including six acres of redundant buildings and land along Inverlair Avenue.

Celeros FT has signed up to a minimum 25-year commitment on the 369,000 sq ft of manufacturing buildings and 110,000 sq ft of space it currently occupies, with options to extend.

It has pledged to establish a centre of engineering excellence at the site and has launched a new apprenticeship scheme, which it said would help it build a workforce for the future. The programme, which will be run in conjunction with East Kilbride Training Group, will offer 48 apprenticeships over six years, 22 recruited across 2021/2022 and a further 26 planned for the period between 2023 and 2026.

Celeros currently employs 250 people at the site.

Chris McVicker, chief financial officer for Celeros FT, said: “We are proud of the manufacturing capability and heritage of ClydeUnion Pumps and see a period of investment as the catalyst for growth. The initial focus will be to invest in the existing building infrastructure and site energy performance, with further plans to build upon our core competencies of engineering, manufacturing and testing pump solutions for the world’s most demanding operating conditions.”

The move by Celeros to sell surplus land comes after the company acquired the site from SPX FLOW two years ago to bring ClydeUnion into its portfolio of brands.

ClydeUnion had been sold to SPX Corporation for £750m in 2011, four years after it had been saved by Scottish industrialist Jim McColl in a deal that preserved 600 jobs.

Mr McColl began his career as an apprentice at the former Weir Pumps business, and his Clyde Blowers Capital outfit had stepped in to save the operation after its proposed sale by Weir Group to Swiss rival Sulzer collapsed.

Weir had struck an agreement to sell the Cathcart site to housebuilder Cala in a multi-million-pound deal in 2006, before Mr McColl’s intervention. As a result, it had looked that Mr McColl would have to find a new home for the business, but the Cala deal lapsed in 2009, ensuring the pumps manufacturing operation remained in Cathcart.

The Weir Recreation Club is not part of the land being marketed by Celeros. The club was retained by Weir Engineering Services, which was not purchased by Mr McColl when he acquired the business.

Mr McVicker said: “We have now established a stable, sustainable and future-proof plan for Cathcart that unlocks new opportunities for the business and the local economy. We are disposing of the excess building and land in a respectful way, appreciating our legacy and honouring our community.”

The company has appointed Dawn Developments and Cushman & Wakefield to provide advice on how to deliver investment from the vacant property. Work to demolish disused buildings is under way, and consultation with the community will form part of the residential development, Celeros said.

Paul O’Donnell, development director at Dawn, said: “The enthusiasm of Celeros Flow Technology to secure the long-term future of ClydeUnion Pumps in Cathcart is refreshing.

“Their vision for the site will enhance the local area in a positive manner, providing much-needed family housing in Glasgow and enabling Celeros FT to focus on continuing the legacy and heritage of over 135 years of design and manufacturing of pump equipment in Cathcart. We will now embark on a period of community consultation and as plans develop and details evolve, we will be actively sharing them.”

David Davidson, chairman of Cushman & Wakefield in Scotland, said: “We are delighted to have worked with Celeros and Dawn to conclude a successful transaction with an established long-term income investor. It was a highly competitive bidding process with wide international investor interest.

“All parties that viewed the premises responded very positively to the ClydeUnion Pumps business and reinvestment plans and shared our collective view that the business would go from strength to strength for decades to come at this historical location in Glasgow.”