Vysiion Group, a leading UK Communications infrastructure and outsourced IT service provider received £4m of growth capital from BGF in March 2015 to support its growth strategy.
The business, formerly known as RFL Communications, used BGF’s funding to acquire Chippenham based IT Solutions 4 Business Limited and Plymouth based Zantra Technology. In doing so it strengthened the management team thereby providing the group with a significantly enhanced capability to deliver IT outsourcing solutions. The combined group employs 90 staff, predominantly in the South West of England.
Chippenham based RFL Communications provides high security communication systems and solutions, primarily to the power industry, ITS delivers IT infrastructure and IT support services, and Zantra provides consultancy and support for SMEs undertaking IT outsourcing projects. The three businesses that comprise Vysiion Group will grow their existing revenue streams but the enlarged group focuses on larger local and central government contracts, a growing market that its combined resources are ideally suited to service.
The group was founded by successful South West entrepreneur Bruce Brain. The Vysiion group’s acquisitions fulfilled Brain’s objective of creating a significant IT services provider that can take advantage of the large and rapidly growing Public and Private sector market for infrastructure and outsourced IT space. Government is proactively looking to award contracts to smaller and medium sized businesses in the UK with a view to driving the economy and obtaining better value for money.
To deliver these initiatives, the G-Cloud system was developed, allowing various public sector departments to search for approved service providers, thus simplifying the procurement process significantly and providing an even playing field for SMEs to compete. Having launched in April 2012, G-Cloud spend has grown significantly with the latest data to November 2014 showing continued monthly growth in spend, with a total £394m spent to date.
ABBEY PHARMA (INTRAPHARM)
August 2014 to November 2015
Abbey Pharma, the specialist pharmaceutical company which trades as Intrapharm, secured a £2m investment from BGF in August 2014 . BGF took a minority stake in the business and the investment was used to fund the company’s buy-and-build strategy.
Intrapharm was established in 2009 and is a fast growing, dynamic niche pharmaceutical group that manufactures, distributes and sells prescription and ‘Over the Counter’ (OTC) products. Based in Maidenhead, the business is led by Kevin James as CEO and Shafiq Choudhary as COO. As part of BGF’s investment, Brian McEwan joined as chairman. Brian has over 30 years of experience in the pharmaceutical industry having previously held positions as MD of Amdipharm Mercury Company Ltd (AMCo) and COO of Waymade Healthcare Plc.
BGF’s investment supported Intrapharm as a buy & build platform, enabling the business to acquire Crewe based Peckforton Pharmaceuticals, as well as Alvedon, a specialist pain treatment drug. Immediately prior to BGF’s exit, Intrapharm also acquired Aquamax, an emollient cream for use against dry skin conditions.
Following a period of sustained growth, with revenues increasing from £4m p.a. at the point of BGF’s investment to £12m for the current financial year, the business was acquired by German pharmaceutical company RIEMSER Pharma GmbH in November 2015. BGF exited its minority equity stake in the business, with all shareholders realising a strong return.
Kevin James, CEO of Abbey Pharma commented:
“Over the past ten years we have achieved sustained and significant growth through focusing on the speciality pharmaceuticals market. We are very excited about the opportunity to jointly expand and accelerate our growth strategy under the umbrella of RIEMSER”
“BGF’s funding came at the right time for the business and has allowed us to scale the platform with the acquisition of Peckforton, while our Chairman Brian McEwan has provided invaluable support and advice.”
James Austin, Investment Director, BGF commented:
“In Abbey Pharma we backed a first class team in a rapidly expanding business with a strong platform for acquisitive growth. It has been exciting to watch the growth of Intrapharm Abbey Pharma under Kevin and Shafiq’s leadership. The success and attractiveness of the Intrapharm business has been ratified by the acquisition from RIEMSER.”
BGF continued its investment in the next generation of the UK’s IT & Technology sector by backing Skyscape Cloud Services, the leading provider of cloud infrastructure services to the UK public sector, with a £4m investment in May 2014.
BGF’s capital is being used to further develop Skyscape’s channel partnerships as well as continue investment into direct sales, alongside expanding into the wider UK Public Sector, including healthcare, local government, research and higher education.
Since BGF’s investment, Skyscape has experienced rapid growth, increasing revenues from £3.7m in 2014 to £16.2m in 2015. Employee numbers have doubled in line with this growth and the company has won a number of industry awards including ‘One to Watch in Cloudex 20:20, Gartner ‘Cool Vendor’ and Cloud Provider Innovation of the Year award at the UK IT Industry Awards 2014.
Skyscape was founded in May 2011 by successful entrepreneur Jeff Thomas (Chairman) and two experienced businessmen Phil Dawson (CEO) and Simon Hansford (CTO). The company’s head office is in Farnborough, Hampshire.
The business has achieved great success to date, winning a number of high-profile contracts directly with public sector organisations, including the Cabinet Office, Home Office, HMRC and MOD. Skyscape also provides cloud services to other central government departments as well as a growing number of local authorities and independent government organisations.
Capitalising on the government shift to cloud computing which forms a key part of government ICT strategy, Skyscape is a market leader in the provision of assured cloud solutions to the UK public sector and has made significant investment in designing a cloud platform that is specifically tailored to meet the needs of this market. The business is currently focused mainly on central government departments, supporting more than 70 projects, across 38 customer organisations engaging through over 100 partners.
Skyscape focuses on providing assured cloud services in a more agile, secure and cost-effective manner. Its customers are able to eliminate the need for costly hardware or managed hosting services as well as benefit from simple hourly pricing and no initial set-up fees. This genuine pay-by-the-hour service delivers significant cost savings for Skyscape’s customers, who are able to turn servers off during evenings and weekends, or alternatively, rapidly scale services at times of peak demand.
James joined BGF’s South West team in December 2011. He is responsible for the origination and execution of investments in Wales and South West England, with a focus on Oxfordshire, Berkshire, Hampshire and Dorset. He will also sit on the boards of certain investee companies.
After qualifying as a chartered accountant in Glasgow, James specialised in corporate finance transactions surrounding privately owned companies, typically in the SME space. He has worked in the South and South West of England for more than 10 years including as a Director in the RBS Structured Finance Southern team and latterly as an Investment Director in LDC, the Lloyds Banking Group owned private equity house.
He has experience of a broad range of sectors and transaction types but always with a bias towards growth companies and with a particular interest in businesses that have the ability to scale rapidly and the qualities of the management teams that are required to support them.
James enjoys golf, rugby and most sports but is usually diverted by three small children and two large dogs.
- Adestra (Board Director)
- Abbey Pharma (Board Director)
- Skyscape (Board Director)
- Bullitt (Board Director)
- Primrose (Board Director)
- Vysiion (Board Director)
- MyLife Digital (Board Director)
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.
Online garden products retailer secures £4 million investment
Owned and managed by the husband and wife team of Ian Charles and Erica Robb, Primrose is a rapidly growing online garden products retailer. Since 2003 the company has achieved impressive annual growth rates of up to 40% and is currently employing 125 people in Reading, Berkshire.
In June 2012 Business Growth Fund invested £4 million of growth capital in Primrose. BGF’s equity investment will enable the company to significantly increase its employees and senior team and to fund working capital. This will enable the business to continue on its established growth trajectory to maximise awareness of its quality products. BGF will take a minority stake in the business and James Austin will join the existing board on behalf of BGF.
With the help of BGF, the company aims to grow through an expansion of its product range.