Charles River Laboratories spends $295M on Explora Biolabs to boost preclinical models biz

Charles River Laboratories (CRL) has acquired contract vivarium services firm Explora BioLabs in a $295 million deal designed to expand its preclinical research business.

San Diego-headquartered Explora provides drug industry customers with contract vivarium operation facilities and management services for early-phase research. The firm has a network of 15 facilities in Southern California, San Francisco and Boston. Explora, which has a workforce of 100 people, also plans to add a facility in Seattle before the end of the year.

In a press statement, CRL said the acquisition will expand its Charles River Accelerator and Development Lab (CRADL) business, which provides similar services to Explora at sites in Boston, San Francisco and China.

Colin Dunn, CRL’s corporate senior vice president for global research models and services, declined to share details of the Explora integration plan and instead set the deal in the context of his firm’s M&A strategy.

“Charles River and Explora BioLabs share a distinct dedication to accelerating research for our clients. Our guiding principle for acquisitions is to acquire companies with the best science and the best people," Dunn said. “Like Charles River, Explora has a reputation for high-quality services and a commitment to animal welfare, as well as best-in-class client support.”

CRL said that combined, Explora BioLabs and CRADL will have a network of at least 25 vivarium facilities by the end of 2022, providing over 300,000 square feet of turnkey rental capacity.

According to its full-year results, CRL’s research models and services business—of which CRADL is a part—brought in revenue of $690 million in 2021, an increase of 20.9% from $571 million in 2020.

Explora BioLabs had annual revenue of approximately $38 million in 2021, with strong, double-digit revenue growth expected over the next five years.