Global engineering firm Jacobs has cemented its position as one of Cumbria’s biggest employers after completing its £250 million acquisition of Wood Group’s nuclear division.

The deal – which was completed on Monday a little under a week after it was cleared by the Competition and Markets Authority – takes Jacobs’ workforce in the county to 1,000.

And it will also a significant presence on the ground adding its offices at Workington, Barrow, Westlakes Science Park in Moor Row, to Wood’s bases in Whitehaven and on the Sellafield site.

The workforce could be bolstered further, with Jacobs announcing it is planning to recruit 300-400 people in highly skilled roles across its UK business in the next 12 months.

Jacobs said the deal, first announced in August, would enhance its “credentials as a global leader of total lifecycle nuclear services and technology-enabled solutions”.

It sees two major Sellafield suppliers join forces, with Jacobs, which has worked on the West Cumbria site for more than 40 years, also taking on Wood’s contracts.

Jacobs is part of the Decommissioning Alliance consortium – along with Atkins and Westinghouse Electric Company – currently cleaning up some of the most hazardous facilities at the West Cumbrian site as part of the Decommissioning Delivery Partnership (DDP) framework.

It is also part of the Sellafield Limited’s Box Encapsulation Plant project framework – potentially worth up to £240m – which will treat hazardous waste from the site and prepare it for safe storage.

Meanwhile, Wood holds the Design and Engineering lot for the Programme and Project Partners (PPP) framework, which could be worth up to £769m to the company over its 20-year lifespan, and was recently awarded a £50m contract to provide programmable digital control technologies to the plant.

It is also part of the Rolls Royce-led consortium that is actively targeting sites in Cumbria and Wales to install its first-of-a-kind Small Modular Reactor.

The current president of nuclear at Wood plc, Clive White, will take up the reins of the combined business as senior vice president, Critical Mission Solutions – International (CMS-I).

He said: “We are delighted to bring Wood Nuclear’s remarkable expertise into Jacobs’ Cumbrian workforce

“This coming-together of knowledge will strengthen the region’s already impressive status as a world-class nuclear hub, offering significant opportunity for local talent.

“We look forward to making the integration process as smooth as possible for our teams and are excited to develop together as a business that is even better equipped to solve the problems of the future.”

An office has been set up to oversee the integration of the two teams and will be overseen by senior vice president at Jacobs, Pete Lutwyche, who has previously worked as chief operating officer at the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority.

For Wood Group, the deal marks the end of its involvement in the nuclear sector, as it pushes ahead with plans to reduce its net debt, which stood at around £1.3 billion at the end of last year.

Together with the sale of its industrial services business to technical services provider and fellow Sellafield supplier Kaefer announced last month, it has raised a combined £327.5m towards its target.

Wood’s chief financial officer, David Kemp, said: “The sale of our nuclear business and other recent divestments have also enabled us to accelerate progress towards our leverage target.

“Future portfolio optimisation will continue to be driven by our strategic objective of building a premium, differentiated, higher margin business focused on energy and built environment end markets.”