BVG Airflo Group, a multi-channel retailer based in Wales, received a £10m investment from BGF in July 2015.
Established in 1991 by Chief Executive Iain Burgess, the business has grown rapidly from a single person operation to a highly profitable non-high street multi-channel retailer generating turnover in the region of £70m in its current financial year. BVG has increased revenues by over 70% and profits by nearly 300% in the last five years through a combination of organic growth and acquisitions.
The business has a substantial online focus, specialising in the sale and distribution of footwear and clothing, home and garden products, fishing tackle & equipment and sports nutrition products. BVG has a number of routes to market for its products including a highly successful e-commerce function, mail order to its database of over 1m customers and a number of high profile B2B customers.
BVG controls almost every aspect of the business in-house from artwork production and website development through to product design, sourcing, buying, fulfilment, call centre and returns. The Group’s head office is in Brecon, South Wales, and it also operates and owns a 230,000 square foot distribution centre in Skelmersdale, near Liverpool, employing over 325 staff across both sites.
This represents BGF’s second investment in Wales having backed specialist industrial scaffolding business SHS Integrated Services in September 2012. A number of BGF portfolio companies from across the UK are also establishing a presence in Wales including fast-casual Mexican restaurant chain Barburrito which recently opened a site in Cardiff and Better Bathrooms, one of the UK’s leading bathroom retailers which also opened a store in the city.
In November 2013, BGF invested £2.5m in Sub10 Systems (Sub10), a specialist designer, developer and vendor of class-leading millimeter wave (“MMW”) wireless solutions for mobile telecoms.
Sub10’s products are high speed wireless devices for data transfer across mobile networks where historically data transfer has been slow and unreliable. The company’s customers are primarily telecommunications companies and large network operators. Due to the growth in mobile data traffic, many operators are using wireless to save on radio spectrum usage and thereby increase efficiency. This can be achieved by using products such as Sub10’s wireless links where plenty of data spectrum is available for relatively short, high speed, point-to-point data connections. This is ideal for densely packed communications networks such as urban areas and Sub10’s products will help to improve the performance of mobile networks.
Sub10’s aim is to develop the smallest, best in class MMW wireless solutions which are cost effective and installer friendly. The company exports 90% of its products and currently the majority of its sales are to operators in Eastern Europe, Russia and Turkey with the remainder to the UK and Ireland.
Merger with Fastback Networks
In March 2015, Sub10 Systems agreed a merger with US venture capital backed company Fastback Networks.
Fastback, which is based in San Jose, California, delivers innovative mobile infrastructure technology, enabling network operators to deliver enhanced wireless solutions to its customers.
The merger created a group that is able to provide high performance backhaul solutions essential to the deployment of LTE, LTE-A, VoLTE, 4G and 5G mobile networks. The new entity converges Sub10 and Fastback’s powerful and proven technology platforms and intellectual property to enable the industry’s first hybrid – sub 6GHz and mmWave – Any Line of Sight™ backhaul solutions.
The Sub10 Systems operation in Devon became the new European headquarters for Fastback. The combined group is taking immediate advantage of Fastback’s North American sales and marketing presence and strengths, and vice versa for Sub10’s European presence and strengths.
BGF remained as a minority investor in the enlarged entity.
SHS extends breadth of industrial services with £2m acquisition
– Acquisition follows £5.4m investment of growth capital by BGF in September 2012 –
BGF portfolio company SHS Integrated Services, a specialist provider of high specification industrial scaffolding and associated services, has acquired Dixon Pentland Scaffolding Company Limited, a leading provider of scaffolding services to the energy and heavy industrial sectors. The opportunity was introduced to SHS by Grant Thornton Corporate Finance in Cardiff, who also advised on the transaction. The value of the transaction was approximately £2m.
The acquisition will provide Barry-based SHS with a national platform for expansion into a highly specialised and regulated market.
Based in Doncaster, Dixon Pentland specialises in work in the critical services sector, for example providing scaffolding services to the power line and transmission industry. The company’s specialist work for customers such as National Grid is complementary to SHS’s own activities on petrochemical and utilities sites.
With an annual turnover of £5m, key customers of Dixon Pentland include AMEC, Babcock and Balfour Beatty and the company employs 65 people.
Founded in 1998 by Paul Smith, SHS erects and dismantles large scale, technically demanding scaffolding structures for clients in the petrochemical, oil and power generation sectors. It also provides complementary insulation services. SHS’s services are often required by site owners, operators and contractors for essential maintenance and refurbishment work of industrial plants. Offering the highest safety and operational standards, SHS has secured long term contracts with multinationals such as Dow Corning, Murco and Alstom.
SHS financed the acquisition following investment totalling £5.4 million made in September 2012 by BGF.
Dixon Pentland represents the first acquisition that SHS has made using BGF capital.
Finance director, Gavin Payne, who led the deal on behalf of SHS, commented:
“This is an important step for SHS. Dixon Pentland’s reputation and customer base is a great fit with SHS, opening up new markets and enabling us to provide an even more complete service to our customers. We shall be continuing to work with Grant Thornton and BGF to identify potential further acquisitions to complement and extend our offering in what is a highly-specialised market.”
Paul Oldham, BGF’s regional director for South Wales and the South West of England, commented:
“SHS was the first company in Wales that BGF has backed and our investment was made in order to strengthen the company’s core capabilities, develop a broader range of services and expand into new sectors and geographies. Dixon Pentland is a highly complementary acquisition given its reputation in the industry as a well-established, high quality operator and will add considerably to the range of services that SHS is able to offer its clients.”
Alex joined BGF from KPMG Corporate Finance in February 2012 and is responsible for sourcing and executing investments throughout the South West and South Wales.
Since joining, he has been involved in over 10 completed investments and currently sits on the board of a number of these in support of their growth aspirations.
Alex graduated from the University of Warwick with a degree in Mathematics in 2004 and qualified as a Chartered Accountant with KPMG in 2007.
He now lives in Bristol, enjoys playing tennis, squash and golf and participating in at least one ski trip a year.
- BVG Airflo Group (Board Observer)
- Canburg (Board Observer)
- Sub10 Systems
- Magma Global (Board Observer)
- SHS Integrated Services
Reading based Bullitt Group Ltd provides complete go-to-market solutions for global brands who are looking to extend into mobile or audio products.
Following initial success with JCB, Bullitt is now the worldwide licensee of Caterpillar Inc. producing rugged, android based, mobile phones, as well as audio devices for Ted Baker and the recently launched Ministry of Sound range.
In December 2012, BGF invested £3.5m of growth capital in the company to enable Bullitt to accelerate its portfolio of products and brands, as well as supporting the company’s expansion into more international markets. BGF holds a minority stake in the business.
Bullitt owns a commanding position in a rapidly expanding ‘rugged’ device category and is quickly emerging as a market leader in the design and manufacture of high quality, high durability mobile phones for both the consumer and industrial sectors. An example of Bullitt’s collaboration with Cat® can be seen in the following video for the Cat® B15 Smartphone, with the updated S40 and S50 handsets launched in 2015.
Bullitt operates a fully integrated model for the brands it works with, from product conception, through to distribution and marketing of the products. Its channel partners and customers include the world’s leading cellular distributors and telecoms carriers, who in turn sell Bullitt’s products to end users in 50 countries. Bullitt outsources manufacture to a highly regarded Tier 1 supply chain that includes the largest electronic design manufacturers in the industry, such as Compal in Taiwan, a Fortune 2000 company.
Bullitt has been able to pair with significant global brands, such as Cat®, is the 58th most valued brand in the world (according to Interbrand), and Ministry of Sound, the winner of IDMA ‘World’s Best Sound System’ award four years in a row, where Bullitt now produce their headphones and Bluetooth speakers.
This is testament to the unique approach and benefit Bullitt offers to extending brands into the mobile sector.
Bullitt was founded in 2009 by David Floyd, Colin Batt (both previously held senior positions in Motorola); and Richard Wharton, an experienced sales and marketing executive with a background in media and consumer electronics. Operating globally and now employing 72 people, Bullitt has recently opened larger offices in Reading, as well as presence in Shenzhen in China, and the US.
SHS INTEGRATED SERVICES
SHS, formed in 1998 and headquartered out of Barry, is currently operating within highly regulated industries throughout the UK with a principal focus on the Power and Utilities sector, Oil and Gas, Chemical and Nuclear sectors. The company is a medium-sized, privately owned business with a minority shareholding held by BGF and is looking to continue its impressive growth from its existing location in the Vale.
SHS core services include Scaffold Access and Egress, Ductwork and Ventilation Installation, Industrial and HVAC Insulation, together with a number of other additional capabilities such as Surface Protection and Coatings, Rope Access and Rescue Services.
The company made its first acquisition during 2013 where it acquired a specialist access business predominantly supplying services to the National Grid. This business, based in Doncaster, was also a strategic acquisition to develop a new geographic location within the industrial stronghold that is the North East.
SHS has made further positive steps to add two new service offerings to its existing Scaffolding and Insulation services during 2015, these capabilities being Cladding and Industrial Cleaning. The Cladding services range from Industrial metal roofing installation, roof lights and rain screen cladding. These capabilities have been achieved via the Company’s second acquisition which was made during August 2015.
SHS has an exceptional Quality, Health, Safety and Environmental record with an outstanding array of accreditations working in Power, Transmission, Aviation and nuclear sectors (see website below) with clients that include Alstom, Babcock International, Balfour Beatty, CB&I, Costain, Dow Corning, Energy Alliance, Laing O’Rourke, McGee, National Grid, Puma Energy, SPIE, TATA and more recently works at all of London’s major airports including Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted with a variety of clients.
The business has significant expertise in delivering major project work and has vast experience in working with it clients to deliver major T&I work, particularly at Dow Corning, Murco Oil refinery and the construction of Europe’s largest new build power station at Pembroke between 2010 and 2012 where it delivered over £15M of scaffolding and insulation services.
The future for SHS particularly with its extended services lines will accelerate the growth of SHS during 2016 and allow another period of sustained and high growth. Huge opportunities exist for works at Hinkley Point C, the first in a new generation of UK nuclear power stations but also other large infrastructure projects such as the Swansea Bay tidal lagoon and Power Station and Transmission related projects.