BGF invested £7.5m in flexible van hire company, LCV Hire Solutions Ltd, which trades under the Reflex brand (“Reflex”), to support the continued expansion of its fleet of light-commercial vehicles and fleet cars in conjunction with the provision of industry-leading customer service.
From its base in Loughborough in the East Midlands, Reflex provides its corporate customers with national, round the clock services. Reflex also offers a range of duty of care products, marketed under the ‘Flexi’ brand, including tracking systems, cameras and driver safety products. The company currently has 3,500 vehicles in its fleet and aims to grow this to 10,000 over the next five years.
Reflex was acquired in 2012 by the Waring Family and is led by Executive Chairman Oliver Waring who, with Managing Director Charles Hart, has managed the business through a period of significant growth. Both Waring and Hart have many years of experience in the light commercial vehicle sector having been key people in the building of Northgate plc to become market leader in the flexible rental sector.
Stewart Oades was appointed as a Non-Executive Director and joins existing Non-Executive Director Tony Trahar, former CEO of Anglo American plc. Oades brings extensive experience in logistics and fleet management having served on the main board of Exel and as former group chief executive of Christian Salvesen. Ian Downing, an investor at BGF, joined the Board as part of the investment.
Ninth generation family business partners with BGF
BGF tailors its offer to support family’s long-term plans for hereditary business
BGF has invested £3m in Dudson (Holdings) Limited (“Dudson”), one of the UK’s oldest family-owned businesses that produces ceramic tableware for the travel and hospitality industry . Operating since 1800, Dudson is currently under the stewardship of 8th generation family members Ian, Max and Mark Dudson who act as Non-Executive Chairman, CEO and Group Operations Director respectively. The 9th generation is already represented by Ian’s daughter, Katie, who is the company’s Marketing Manager. The business is headquartered in Stoke-on-Trent and employs over 500 people, with turnover approaching £30m.
Dudson supplies the travel and hospitality industry with high quality durable tableware, which it manufactures at its factories in Stoke-on-Trent and Digoin, France. Dudson acquired its fully automated French manufacturing facility in 2009 and also owns a stake in Furlong Mills, a Stoke-on-Trent clay materials supplier. It sells to customers globally from its six international commercial centres, as well as through a range of distributors and agents in countries throughout the world. Customers include Virgin Rail, Pizza Hut, Virgin Atlantic, Nandos, Princess Cruises, Hilton & Hyatt Hotels.
BGF has provided £3m of long term capital to allow the family to invest in the business, whilst retaining the flexibility to pass the company onto the next generation. The funding will enable Dudson to invest in more efficient manufacturing equipment, streamline production processes at its manufacturing facilities and enhance its sales and marketing capabilities.
This investment comes one month after BGF’s £2.8m investment in another Midlands based family business, Rutland Cycling.
Ian Downing, Investment Director at BGF who joined the company’s board, commented:
“Dudson has an impressive 200-year track record and has carved out a strong niche position in the international market for hospitality tableware. It is a great example of a British manufacturing business that has invested heavily in product and process innovation and successfully taken it products into an international marketplace.
“The company’s board has now identified a clear strategy to develop and grow the business, with the objective of being able to pass on a larger, stronger organisation to future generations. We look forward to bringing both financial and strategic support to the table and to working with the team to deliver on their ambitions.”
Gavin Petken, Regional Director, added:
“This investment is a great example of how BGF can offer flexibility in the way that it structures investment – to best meet the needs of shareholders and put the company on the strongest course of growth. Dudson’s motivation is to invest in the business so it is in the best possible shape for future generations, and the long-term strategy to deliver growth will provide new job opportunities both in Stoke-on-Trent and across its global operations. Our capital is long term, unsecured, and flexible; and there is no pressure for the business to move outside of family control.
We believe this is an approach that will resonate with many family businesses. With the right partner on board, these businesses have a great opportunity to achieve their ambitions, to outperform their competitors and to secure long-term financial security for future generations.”
Max Dudson, CEO of the company is delighted with the new partnership and BGF’s approach to the investment.
“Having been through a restructure we have a clearly identified strategy for growth which requires capital investment to deliver improvements in manufacturing efficiency, new machinery to support growing product categories and further investment to support the expansion of our sales, marketing and design teams to exploit new and developing market opportunities. We were keen to find a partner who had the foresight to invest in our strategy as a supportive partner who could add commercial value to our business as well as inject required capital. BGF’s modus operandi of providing unsecured capital and allowing the incumbent board of directors to retain full control of the business, coupled with their long term perspective, makes this a perfect partnership for Dudson, allowing us to deliver our strategy for growth.”
In December 2013, BGF invested £4m of growth capital in Palmer Hargreaves, a marketing and communications agency headquartered in Leamington Spa, with additional operations in China, Germany and Russia.
Palmer Hargreaves was established in 1984 by the current Chairman Andrew Clift, leveraging his strong relationship with Ford for whom he previously worked in sales and marketing. The company grew through a focus on the automotive aftersales market where it established itself as the European market leader and it has diversified in recent years to cover other sectors including agrichemicals, financial services and B2B services.
Palmer Hargreaves focuses on large organisations with complex marketing needs and multi-national/multi-lingual deployment requirements. Clients include Ford, Bayer, Mercedes Benz, Jaguar Land Rover, General Motors, Audi, Volkswagen, Mazda, Continental Tyres and BMW.
The company employs nearly 50 people at its offices in Leamington Spa.
BGF’s £4m growth capital investment is supporting the company’s acquisition-led growth. Palmer Hargreaves completed the acquisition of German IT and telecommunications communications business PR Partners in October 2013, expanding its range of complementary services and clients. BGF’s investment is providing growth capital for acquisitions in the UK and Germany and has enabled the business to expand its international presence, opening a new office in Shanghai in December 2014. Palmer Hargreaves was then appointed as Porsche China’s lead Aftersales Marketing & Communications Agency under a two-year contract, with a number of significant projects underway.
The new office is based in the heart of Shanghai and has now appointed Coaching and Consultancy Director, Mark O’Flaherty.
Mark, is based locally, has 20 years’ experience in Global Automotive Aftersales across over 15 vehicle manufacturer brands, including Fiat, Ford, Volvo, JLR, BMW,
Ian joined BGF in September 2011 and is based in Birmingham, with responsibility for sourcing, completing and managing investments across the Midlands.
Before BGF, Ian was the CFO of Quotient Clinical, a provider of specialised drug development services to the global pharmaceutical sector. He also spent 10 years at 3i, where he completed over 20 investments across a range of sectors and represented 3i on the board of over 30 companies, helping them to grow and ultimately to exit via trade sale, flotation and refinancing. He started his career as an electronic engineer at Jaguar Cars, where he developed technologies for autonomous vehicles.
Ian has a Physics Degree from Warwick University.
“I have enjoyed seeing many people create really successful and valuable companies through the application of entrepreneurial talent, relentless drive, and patient capital. Helping more companies to achieve that success is what gets me out of bed in the morning.”
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BGF backs Midlands based Shuropody to expand its national footprint
Midlands based Shuropody is the UK’s leading specialist footcare provider with local branches in Birmingham, Coventry, Leamington Spa and Stratford-Upon-Avon within its 63-strong national network.
In September 2012, BGF invested £3 million of growth capital in Shuropody to enable the company to expand upon its current garden centre based sites, as well as the introduction of new community service locations. It is expected this will generate another 200 jobs over the next three years.
This investment was led by BGF’s seven strong Birmingham team and is its third investment in Midlands based businesses to date.
BGF’s ability to structure investments flexibly to best meet a particular company’s financing needs enabled it to split the £3 million growth capital investment into £1.5 million of ordinary shares and £1.5 million of loan notes.
Shuropody delivered sales of £15.8 million in the year ending 31 December 2011 and is expecting sales to double over the next 3 years. Headquartered in Coventry and founded in 2007, Shuropody offers podiatry services and comfort-focused footwear products. Initially opening a handful of stores in 2007, the company grew rapidly following its purchase of 43 stores from Boots, in July 2008. The business now operates from 63 standalone stores and concessions across the UK and is the second largest provider of podiatry services behind the NHS, with 400 employees, of whom almost 150 are medically qualified podiatrists.
Shuropody was founded by Managing Director Frank Duffy who has been involved in the manufacture and retail of footwear and general clothing since 1978. He previously spent four years as Group CEO of R Griggs Group which famously produced Dr. Marten’s shoes. Gordon Horsfield acts as Non-Executive Chairman and was previously Chairman of Drax Group Plc where he led the restructuring programme before listing the business on the London Stock Exchange in 2005.
BGF invests in Midlands’ toy company
Based in Wolverhampton, Wow! Stuff is a toy development business that creates or sources inventions from across the world and develops these ideas into marketable products sold to wholesalers and retailers globally. It generally owns the Intellectual Property of the toys or secures exclusive IP rights. Wow! Stuff also creates gifts and gadgets, which are sold under licensed brands such as Top Gear, Wallace and Gromit, Doctor Who and The Science Museum, London. The business currently employs 30 people. Some of Wow!Stuff’s most successful products include 2011 Christmas bestsellers such as the Air Swimmers, My Keepon and Flitter Fairies; and Dave the Funky Monkey, which upon launch in 2010 achieved sales of 250,000 units in 8 weeks and won Hamley’s toy of the year.
Wow! Stuff was founded by Richard North in 2006, together with Kenny McAndrew and Dr. Graeme Taylor who look after new product development. North is a serial entrepreneur who was credited by HSBC as Business Thinker of the year in 2010. Wow! Stuff was also nominated as winner of the Orange Innovation award at the National Business Awards and was included in the Sunday Times Fast Track 100 in 2010.
Wow!Stuff sought BGF’s investment to enable the company to bring new and revolutionary products to market, develop future innovations and expand into the US, where significant growth opportunities exist.