BHR Group, the independent research and technology organisation specialising in the application of fluid engineering to industrial processes, is preparing for expansion thanks to a £2.6m investment of growth capital from BGF.
BHR grew out of the British Hydromechanics Research Association, one of the founding research associations established by the UK government in the 1940’s alongside the likes of MIRA and PERA. Current Managing Director Raghbir Chand took control of Cranfield University-based BHR in August 2011 and revenues have grown year on year since. BHR currently employs 84 staff; a mixture of scientists, engineers and commercial staff.
BHR has a well-established heritage, and is recognised globally for its engineering excellence and contribution to fluid dynamics, with a diverse cross-section of clients across multiple industries including Shell, DOW Chemical, Mott McDonald and Sellafield.
Projects range across the fluid mechanics sector, from processes involving the effective mixture of nano-fluids, to new product development and validation of advanced and high value engineering systems. BHR also offers integrated design, consultancy and project management solutions, such as city-wide integrated intelligent smart water systems design. BHR has clients operating in the renewables, oil and gas, chemicals, nuclear, water, power, and manufacturing sectors where fluid behaviour is critical to design performance and operational costs.
BGF’s investment in BHR will be used to grow the company’s core consultancy offering, as well as to support additional research and development, and the commercialisation of its own intellectual property and know-how. The new capital will also allow BHR to consolidate and expand into new markets, such as the Middle East where it’s knowhow and expertise is in great demand and key clients seek local presence for larger contracts and joint program deliveries.
BHR will also bolster its Board with the appointment of Michael Stevens as Chairman and Paul Winstanley as Non-Executive Director. Michael was formerly Chief Executive of Linx Printing Technologies, and currently serves on boards of Hydro International plc and Stratophase Ltd. Paul is the former President and CEO of QinetiQ’s USA presence, and is currently serving on the board of several early stage ventures including Alazen Ltd and Entrada Ltd.
BGF has taken a minority stake in BHR and Senior Investment Manager, Jonathan Earl has joined the board, supported by Aaron Baker who will act as Observer.
Raghbir Chand, Managing Director of BHR, said:
“Research and technology organisations such as BHR Group play a pivotal role in taking scientific knowledge and applying this to develop new or improved engineering products and processes. BHR has enjoyed significant growth since 2011 and I am incredibly proud of the level of expertise, high commitment and calibre of the team that we inherited, and have continued to build in a relatively short time.
“We have been seeking a long-term strategic partner that is able to not only offer the capital investment that we need to deliver the identified growth opportunities but also understands BHR’s history of innovation and shares our passion for supporting our loyal and increasingly international client base. This investment from BGF will allow us to rapidly modernise the existing facility at Cranfield, invest in additional state of the art equipment and widen the already broad offering of services that we offer our customers. It will also accelerate the bringing to market of BHR’s owned product opportunities, including the launch of the ‘BHR COOLFIRE’ product portfolio (high pressure engineering cutting and jetting systems) for the fire and rescue services.”
Jonathan Earl, BGF’s Senior Investment Manager, said:
“We have been very impressed with what Raghbir and the team has achieved to date. BHR has a solid underlying business capable of continued growth, as well as significant IP which the company has started to commercialise. The quality of service that it provides helps other businesses to maximise their investment across a huge array of sectors and applications and being the market leader, BHR is well placed to expand its presence in the field of fluid engineering.”
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,
Jon joined BGF in June 2013 and is based in Birmingham. He is responsible for identifying and completing new investments and working closely with the Boards of these companies to help support their growth plans.
Jon has 9 years’ experience of investing in SMEs. Prior to joining BGF, his investment experience was gained at Catapult Ventures where he completed over 30 investments across a broad range of stages and sectors. He was also actively involved in the management of the portfolio and led several highly profitable exits. In his earlier career he worked at KPMG in the Midlands, where he qualified as a Chartered Accountant, and at LloydsPharmacy.
Jon is a graduate of Durham University with a BSc (Hons) in Geography. He lives in the East Midlands and he and his wife are kept very busy by their two young children. This leaves Jon less time to pursue his sporting interests though he still manages the occasional round of golf, skiing trip and Leicester Tigers / Leicester City match.
“What excites me most about my role at BGF is working with the diverse range of businesses and ambitious entrepreneurs that we are looking to support. In particular I enjoy getting to understand a business and the people and, appreciating that every company and situation is unique, working to find an appropriate solution.”