Building group Sisk wins €21m contract for Pirbright lab in UK

Deal to build high-tech laboratory follows other wins in British market for Irish construction group

Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Construction group Sisk has won a €20 million-plus contract to build a laboratory for Britain's Pirbright Institute which will conduct research into bird flu and other animal diseases.

It emerged at the weekend that the Pirbright Institute, whose work focuses on livestock disease, has hired the British division of John Sisk & Son to build a new research lab at its headquarters.

The facility, dubbed the CL2 Laboratory, will support 90 scientists researching viruses carried by livestock and birds and will cost a reported £17 million (€21 million).

The deal is part of an overall £100 million development at the institute. A larger lab, likely to cost £70 million, that will concentrate on avian-borne viruses, is also out to tender.


Bidders for this include, Laing O'Rourke, the British construction giant founded by Mayo man Ray O'Rourke, and French player Bouygues, which was involved the rescue of Sisk's rival, Siac, from examinership earlier this year.

Sisk did not comment on the deal, but the Pirbright Institute confirmed the Irish company’s subsidiary had won the £17 million contract.

Also known as the Institute of Animal Health, Pirbright is a UK government-licensed organisation that researches diseases that affect livestock.

In 2007, the organisation was implicated in an outbreak of foot and mouth disease in cattle after its biosecurity safeguards failed and the disease escaped the facility.

The Pirbright contract is one of a number of substantial projects awarded to Sisk in Britain this year. Earlier this month, it began work on Lewisham Gateway, an 800-home, retail and leisure complex in the south London borough, after winning a €24.5 million contract.

In January, it was awarded the contract for the first phase of the redevelopment of an estate at St John’s Hill, Clapham Junction, London, part of a €140 million project.

Britain is increasingly important to Sisk and became its single biggest market in 2012. Last year, its turnover there was €480 million.

Barry O'Halloran

Barry O'Halloran

Barry O’Halloran covers energy, construction, insolvency, and gaming and betting, among other areas