Giggling Squid, the leading UK Thai restaurant group is to accelerate its growth, following a £6.4m investment from BGF.
Giggling Squid, which has 13 sites across the South of England, will use the BGF funds to add further locations to its portfolio of successful restaurants. BGF took a minority equity stake in the business. BGF has also introduced Simon Kossoff, Chairman and former CEO of Carluccio’s, to the company. Simon joined the board as non-executive Chairman and Jon Simon, Investor at BGF, has also joined the board.
Giggling Squid serves simple, fresh Thai cuisine at lunch and dinner and also offers takeaway services across its restaurants.
Headquartered in Guildford, the business is run by Andy and Pranee Laurillard. They opened the first Giggling Squid in Hove, followed by further restaurants in Brighton, Tunbridge Wells, Henley, Reigate and Stratford. Giggling Squid’s reputation and loyal customer base began to grow.
Over the past two years the pace of growth has accelerated, with three openings in 2014 and a further four so far this year, in Bristol, Salisbury, Billericay and Guildford. New restaurants in Bury St Edmunds, Berkhamsted, Warwick and Esher are due to open soon.
Andy and Pranee’s background in marketing and brand strategy has helped them to drive the success of the Giggling Squid brand. Pranee started her career as an advertising creative at international creative agency Lintas. Andy started his career in 1996 at Unilever, before a short spell at Coca Cola and subsequently five years as head of brand strategy and innovation at TUI Travel.
Giggling Squid’s expansion to date has been funded through cashflow alongside debt from Barclays. BGF’s £6.4m investment will provide further capital to accelerate the growth plan across the South and nationally. The business employs around 300 staff across its thirteen sites and is expected to generate revenue in excess of £12m this year. A further 1,000 jobs nationally are expected to be created as a result of the company’s expansion over the next 4 years.
TCT Increases Production Capacity
Thames Card Technology Ltd (Thames), one of the UK’s largest manufacturers of secure and non-secure plastic cards, has responded to market demand for its gift, loyalty and payment card production services with the purchase of two new machines. The ‘best-in-class’ equipment incorporates technologies that deliver the increased capacity required to maintain its position as the go-to provider for the UK plastic card market.
“The purchase of this new machinery is central to our growth plans following December’s investment of £3.2m from independent UK investment firm, BGF,” comments Paul Underwood, Managing Director at Thames. “The exponential growth of the gift and loyalty sectors, the increasing number of banking customers in the developing world and EMV migration in the US is seeing demand for our services grow and these purchases maximise our ability to respond.”
Gift, loyalty and membership card production capacity has been increased by an additional 50% thanks to the Atlantic Zeiser Cardline Versa machine, which offers a high-speed drop on demand (DoD) card personalisation system. It streamlines and expedites the card production process, enabling the data to be encoded and printed onto the card, scratch labels to be attached and camera-automated verification to happen in-line, on a single machine.
Further investment has been made to improve services for the gift, loyalty and banking market with a Kurtz C7000 High-Speed Hologram and Foil Blocking System.
“Not only are we significantly increasing capacity, we are also adding capabilities and improving continuity as these new machines will supplement our existing infrastructure,” concludes Paul. “With increased output we are also investing in a second secure vault to store our Visa and MasterCard products throughout the manufacturing and personalisation process.
“This is an exciting stage in our growth and it is full steam ahead with our growth plan as we strive to improve efficiency and streamline processes which will benefit us and, most importantly, our customers. We look forward to announcing further purchases in due course as part of our plans to develop our share of the banking market.”
BGF pipes £3m into drainage contractor to accelerate growth
In June 2014, BGF announced a growth capital investment of £3m in Flowline Limited, a leading drainage contractor in the South East of England.
The £3m investment for a minority stake in Flowline, enabled the business to acquire Clearaway Drainage Services Limited, provide capital to support organic growth, strengthen the senior management team and train staff to deliver new services and operate in new markets. The acquisition of Clearaway adds expertise in the rail and industrial markets.
Flowline was founded in 1991 by Managing Director Barry Robins and since then, the business has grown revenues to over £8m in the year ending July 2014. The company operates from its head office in Rayleigh, Essex with satellite sites near Reigate, Surrey and South Mimms, Hertfordshire. The Company currently employs 85 staff.
Flowline is a commercial drainage contractor providing CCTV pipeline surveying, high pressure water jetting, gully and catchpit cleaning, waste recycling, liquid waste tankering and road sweeping primarily into the water and highways markets. It currently runs a fleet of 60 vehicles serving customers across London, the Home Counties and nationally when required. Customers include infrastructure owners such as Thames Water and Anglian Water. Clearaway was established in 1994 and is based in Kings Langley, Hertfordshire. The acquisition adds expertise and a strong track record in two new markets; rail and industrial, and skills in two additional technically complex service lines in relining and robotic cutting.
In addition, at the introduction of BGF, Alan Horton, the former CEO of Evander Glazing & Locks, joined the Flowline board as Non-Executive Chairman and Investment Director Rory Pope joined the board as BGF’s representative.
Barry Robins, Managing Director and founder of Flowline, said:
“Having built up a profitable and highly regarded business in the sector, I am convinced that now is the time to take advantage of a capital injection and combine it with our experience to grow the business faster and further. The investment will allow us to build our fleet and equipment, make value enhancing acquisitions and recruit additional experience into the business. I look forward to working with BGF as a partner to achieve these goals.”
BGF Investment Director, Rory Pope, said:
“This is an exciting opportunity to back a well-established business operating in a robust sector. Flowline has a clear growth strategy based on continuing to win new contracts for its existing services, and expansion into new markets where substantial opportunities exist such as rail and industrial, supported by the strategic acquisition of Clearaway. We are looking forward to partnering with Barry and the management team to drive the business forward and capitalise on the opportunities that exist for them.”
BGF’s first investment in a business located in the East of England was in energy-focused firm 3sun Group, a specialist provider of products and services to the global energy industry.
Founded in 2007 by Graham Hacon, 3sun Group operates in the offshore wind and oil and gas sectors. It is an established service provider to offshore wind farms, providing installation, inspection and maintenance services. In oil and gas, 3sun manufactures, installs and maintains control panels for offshore subsea and topside applications.
3sun Group secured the £10m BGF funding following six years of consistent growth. The Group has continued to grow rapidly, now employing 240 people and 31 apprentices across its headquarters in Great Yarmouth, and its bases in Aberdeenshire, Bergen, Norway, Lubeck, Germany and Esbjerg, Denmark. The Group is on track to deliver revenue in excess of £30m in the current year.
The investment of growth capital from BGF, alongside the appointment of Les Dawson, former CEO of Southern Water and Chairman of Murphy Group, as non-executive Chairman, has supported 3sun Group’s plans to accelerate expansion in its Great Yarmouth base and advance further opportunities in the UK and northern Europe. The group have also recruited an experienced COO and in 2015 completed the acquisition of AID Training, further enhancing their leading training capability.
3sun Group is well placed to benefit from strong growth dynamics in its target markets. The offshore wind market is forecast to grow dramatically, both in the UK as maintenance contracts become available for Round 2 turbines and Round 3 construction commences, and in northern Europe.
THAMES CARD TECHNOLOGY
Plastic card manufacturer draws £3.2m investment from BGF
BGF’s final investment of 2013 was in Essex-based Thames Card Technology Ltd (“TCT”), one of the UK’s largest plastic card manufacturers. BGF’s £3.2m growth capital investment will enable TCT to acquire new manufacturing equipment, increasing capacity and efficiency. Its financial and operational support will also help the company to capitalise on the significant growth opportunities offered in the international bankcard market and the prepaid card market.
This was BGF’s 14th investment in the manufacturing sector. Since its inception in May 2011, BGF has injected over £60 million of growth capital into UK manufacturing-led businesses.
From its site in Rayleigh in Essex, TCT provides a full-service offering to organisations that wish to distribute plastic cards to their customers, including design and manufacture of cards as well as personalisation and dispatch. It services a range of markets with an international blue chip customer base across banking, retail, telecoms and ID. In 2013, TCT manufactured over 175m credit/debit, gift and loyalty cards, generating sales of £18m.
The business was founded in 1994 by the current MD, Paul Underwood, initially focusing on non-secure cards (e.g. gift, loyalty and membership cards) before expanding into secure cards (e.g. credit, debit and prepaid cards) and achieving Visa and MasterCard accreditation in 2000.
The increasing number of banking customers in the developing world, particularly in Africa, combined with the move towards chip cards presents a considerable growth opportunity. There is also strong demand for prepaid cards that are pre-loaded with funds; prepaid cards represent the fastest growing form of payment method in the past five years and the prepaid card base in Europe is expected to reach 418m in 2015.
In addition, the investment enabled TCT to add to its senior team and, at the introduction of BGF, Andy Caffyn, the former CEO of Deloro Stellite Group and Avery Weigh-Tronix, joined the TCT board as Non-Executive Chairman. BGF’s Head of Manufacturing Mark Bryant also provides operational support and Investment Director Rory Pope joined the board as BGF’s representative.
Paul Underwood, MD and founder of Thames Card Technology, said:
“After 19 years of building TCT and funding growth from our own cash proceeds, I took the decision with my senior team that it was time to secure an injection of equity finance so that we could go further, faster, to realise our growth ambitions. There are significant opportunities to go for in the next three years and we wanted to ensure that lack of finance did not hinder us from doing that.
“Having made the decision to bring in external funding, it was then a question of which provider would suit us best. BGF stood out as not only can they provide us with the necessary capital but they will also offer us valuable guidance and support. One of their directors, himself an experienced manufacturing entrepreneur, is working with our operations team and a BGF representative will sit on our board. Undoubtedly we know our business well but this additional experience can only be a good thing for the company, its staff, suppliers and ultimately our customers.”
BGF Investment Director, Rory Pope, said:
“Thames Card Technology is an excellent example of a business that is suited to the growth capital investment that BGF is offering. It has done exceptionally well to reach the position that it occupies today as a respected card manufacturer and a leading company in its space. It has been able to fund steady upward growth from its own balance sheet.
“However Paul and the senior team now want to see that growth accelerate and recognise that we can help them to capitalise on the opportunities in the international banking market and the prepaid card market.
“For BGF, this is an exciting opportunity to support a UK manufacturing business that is looking to grow its domestic and export sales and we look forward to working with the team.”
BGF’s Head of Manufacturing, Mark Bryant, said:
“The UK has a tremendous depth and breadth of manufacturing capability across a wide range of sectors. Numerous sectors are experiencing significant growth and for many, now is an ideal time to invest. TCT recognises this and will benefit from both a strengthened financial position and the operational focus that BGF brings. This combination will accelerate the adoption of Lean Techniques and a greater drive to eliminate waste, complementing the excellent service and quality that TCT provides. I am looking forward to supporting TCT on this journey of continuous improvement.”
PTS CONSULTING GROUP
BGF invested £8.7m of capital in London headquartered PTS Consulting Group (PTS), a global IT Consulting and Project Management company in October 2013. Established in 1983, PTS operates from 17 strategically located offices, enabling a ‘follow the sun’ service from Australia, through Asia, the Middle East, Europe and America.
PTS’s clients, which include 17 of the top 20 global investment banks as well as more than 30 Fortune and FTSE 100 companies, have mission critical, multi-territory IT project requirements and PTS has the local knowledge and world class skills to supplement their in-house teams. This project activity has resulted in PTS helping its clients move into some of the world’s most iconic buildings such as: the Willis Tower in Chicago, the Abu Dhabi Stock Exchange, the International Commerce Centre in Hong Kong and the Mori Tower in Tokyo. In London, PTS is working with companies moving into 122 Leadenhall Street (the ‘Cheesegrater’), 20 Fenchurch Street (‘the Walkie Talkie’) and 30, St Mary Axe (the ‘Gherkin’). PTS also provided Audio Visual and Multimedia expertise for The Shard Viewing Gallery and the London 2012 Olympics Aquatic Centre and Velodrome. In total, PTS has worked in 80 countries and 320 cities.
PTS has recently invested in its Data Centre service, developing a consulting and market-leading accreditation platform, STARS, which has driven significant growth in the business. Data Centre projects have included supporting a global online retail and distribution company with an assessment of its Data Centre capability and working with a leading US financial institution to define its global Data Centre strategy.
CEO Kevin Perrett originally led an MBO of PTS in 1990 when it operated out of one London-based office with just eight employees. Since then, it has developed a presence in 10 countries employing 400 people, and has delivered 11,000 projects for 4,500 clients. The business is on track to generate revenue of almost £40m in 2013.
BGF’s investment will fund geographical expansion, in particular in North America, accelerate the development of STARS, and allow PTS to recruit additional high calibre staff. Funding will also be available for strategically relevant acquisitions.
Rob Pinchbeck has joined the Board as Chairman. Rob has extensive international business experience developed during a 40-year career in the oil and gas industry, latterly with Petrofac where he founded and led the Operations Services division and subsequently served as Group Director of Strategy. Rob previously acted as Chairman of Sparrows Group, and currently is a non-executive Director of IGas plc, Enteq Upstream plc and Severn Energy International.