Matt joined BGF in February 2015 and is responsible for sourcing and completing investments.
Prior to this he worked for Ernst & Young in their Transaction Support team, providing buy and sell side due diligence services on M&A transactions across various sectors, with a focus on TMT.
Matt holds a first class BSc degree in Mathematics, Operational Research, Statistics and Economics from the University of Warwick and is a qualified Chartered Accountant.
“BGF is unlocking opportunities for best and brightest entrepreneurs to think big and fulfil their innovative and ambitious growth plans. Their aspirations are driving economic growth in the UK and it is hugely exciting to be able to support them in building their businesses.”
THE CONSULTING CONSORTIUM
UK’s largest independent regulatory consultancy set to expand with BGF investment
In March 2014, BGF invested £10m for a minority stake in The Consulting Consortium (“TCC”), the UK’s largest independent regulatory and compliance consultancy.
Headquartered in London with an office in Leeds, TCC provides specialist regulatory compliance services to FCA regulated firms in the financial industry. TCC has advised over 250 financial services clients since 2001, more than 140 in the last two years including a number of FTSE 100 and multi-national companies.
Entrepreneur Joanne Smith founded TCC in 2000. With over 20 years’ experience in the financial services industry, she began her career at the Financial Services Authority (FSA) before becoming a regulatory consultant for KPMG. In establishing TCC, Joanne sought to build a consultancy business that would provide a very different style of service to that of the traditional ‘Big Four’ firms. In what is still a typically male dominated industry, females account for over half of TCC’s staff and Joanne has been credited with a number of awards for her contribution to the industry.
TCC has experienced impressive growth over the last few years and in December 2013, TCC was ranked in 45th place on the 2013 Sunday Times Virgin Fast Track 100. Its turnover in the current financial year is approaching £12m.
BGF’s growth capital investment will focus on building the firm’s marketing, personnel and infrastructure. TCC is expected to grow revenues on the back of an increasingly active FCA and through capturing market share. The value of regulatory actions brought by the FSA/FCA during 2013 revealed that fines reached a record annual total of over £472 million (source: Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer).
TCC has developed a ground-breaking proprietary risk management SaaS solution called RecordSure that monitors, records and analyses near real-time interactions between financial product sellers and customers to provide transparency, consistent reporting and compliance tools to address issues of mis-selling or other regulatory breaches.
Joanne Smith, founder and Chief Executive of TCC commented:
“BGF will provide valuable guidance and contribution in taking our company to the next level of growth. Given the ever changing regulatory environment, with financial services companies needing to remain compliant at all times with FCA regulations, our services are increasingly in demand.
“We have delivered impressive year on year growth without any institutional funding to date, but we wanted the right investment partner to help take the business to the next level. BGF stood out for us because their bank shareholders are the exactly the type of companies that we want to work for. They bring so much more than money to the equation in terms of expertise and a huge network of relevant contacts that we can access.”
Marion Bernard of BGF, commented:
“Our investment in TCC is a very exciting opportunity for BGF. The company has demonstrated its ability to deliver complex regulatory solutions and advice to major financial and consumer companies across the UK. The increased focus on maintaining high regulatory standards following a number of high profile incidents in the financial services industry over the past few years highlights the need for TCC’s expertise.
“We were also particularly excited by the new software product RecordSure, which has the potential to revolutionise the manner in which companies approach and monitor regulatory activity within their firms. We are delighted to be backing Joanne and the team, who are genuine experts in their field.”
Marion Bernard, BGF Regional Director for London and South East, joined the board on behalf of BGF.
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.”
In December 2013 BGF invested £3.2m for a minority stake in Cass Art, one of the UK’s leading independent art materials retailers. This was BGF’s 11th investment in London and the South East.
Founded in 2001 by CEO Mark Cass, an avid art promoter and entrepreneur, Cass Art strives to encourage as many people as possible to create art, believing that art is a fundamental human need, with an emphasis on nurturing talent, expression and art as freedom.
Cass Art’s first store was on Kensington High Street. Since then the company has expanded and now has six stores across London in Hampstead, Charing Cross, Kingston, Soho and its flagship store in Islington. The company now also has a national presence with stores in Bristol, Liverpool and Glasgow.
The business and brand has grown from strength to strength over the past five years and now employs over 130 staff. BGF backed the Cass Art team to roll out new stores in major cities across the UK and to develop its e-commerce platform (www.cassart.co.uk) which presents a significant opportunity to grow on a national scale.
Since BGF invested, Cass has opened three stores and significantly increased its e-commerce operations.
Cass Art attracts a wider and younger range of customers than traditional art stores by making art accessible with its high street locations, workshops and relative affordability.
Typical customers include a mixture of beginners, hobbyists, art students, vocational artists and professional artists, as well as children through the launch in 2009 of the award-winning Cass Art Kids range of products.
Management have also established many partnerships with London’s cultural institutions and art universities, including the National Gallery, the Royal Academy of Arts, the Royal College of Art, Design Museum and the Institute for Contemporary Arts, all of which are heritage institutions looking to appeal to a younger audience well-represented by Cass Art’s customer base.
The UK art materials market is highly fragmented with a handful of retailers accounting for just over a quarter of sales. Approximately 10% or 180,000 of all UK university students are enrolled in an Arts course with enrolment growing by 25% between 2004 and 2010. The market’s fragmentation and growing customer base both offer considerable opportunity for Cass Art to professionalise the UK market.
Mark Cass has been an avid art promoter and entrepreneur throughout his business career firstly as Managing Director of Craftsmith which his family bought from WH Smith in 1979. This was the largest arts and crafts retailer in the UK and was sold in 1984.
In 1979 Mark and his father Wilfred Cass OBE co-founded the Image Bank UK, the world’s largest film and stock photography library which was sold to Getty images in 2000. In 2001, he turned his attention to creating Cass Art, expanding the Company to six stores today.
Stuart Rose, the former Chairman of toy group Hamleys, ex-Managing Director and deputy Chairman of The Body Shop and former Chairman of Agent provocateur joined the Cass Art board as Non-Executive Chairman. This appointment was made by BGF through its Talent Network.
BGF was introduced to Cass Art by the company’s bankers Barclays.
THE EXCHANGE LAB
BGF provided £5m of growth capital to The Exchange Lab in November 2013.
The business, co-founded by entrepreneurs James Aitken and Tim Webster, delivers digital advertising campaigns across display, video, social media and mobile channels, evaluating a billion audience interactions daily. Its proprietary plaform, Proteus, provides advertisers and brands with visibility across twelve DSPs, enabling them to access unrivalled volumes of digital inventory at lowest cost.
The company invested BGF’s capital in Proteus, integrating an additional eight Demand Side Platforms (DSPs) and boosting campaign automation by developing advanced APIs. It also embarked on a focused sales strategy in North America, delivering top line growth and demonstrating commercial scale on the Proteus platform.
In December 2015, BGF successfully exited its investment in the firm, following its acquisition by WPP for an undisclosed sum. The Exchange Lab’s people and technology are now being integrated into WPP’s GroupM.
This was second high-profile ‘scale-up’ exit for BGF in the technology, media and telecommunications (TMT) sector following the acquisition of Unruly by Newscorp in September 2012.
Chris Hodges, an investor at BGF, oversaw BGF’s initial investment in The Exchange Lab and served as BGF’s non-executive director on the board of the company.
New report from BGF and Barclays finds UK start-up activity rises in first half of 2013
With the UK economy seemingly on the way to a sustained recovery, business confidence and entrepreneurialism also seem to be on the rise according to a new joint report from BGF and Barclays.
The Entrepreneurs Index, which tracks the full entrepreneurial lifecycle using data to measure start-ups, growth and share sales, has found that the number of start-ups and high-growth companies has climbed in the past year in the UK. This is the first report of what will be an ongoing series.
Using data from Experian, Companies House, Office for National Statistics, StartUp Britain and YouGov, the report gives a telling insight into the state of the UK’s entrepreneurial activity and reveals that there has been a 3.4% rise in the number of active companies in the first six months of this year, taking the total number of companies in the UK from 2.73 million at the end of 2012 to 2.82 million at the end of the first half of this year.
The proportion of high-growth companies in the UK has also shown an impressive increase, from 17.4% in 2011 to 20.5% in 2012. This means that one in five of these companies can now be defined as high-growth. Read the full report to see how we have defined ‘high growth’ companies.
The report also gives a fascinating breakdown of the activity across the regions of the UK and provides a revealing look at which regions make a vital contribution to its economic growth. If you are interested in which two Scottish cities outside the South East are included in the top ten cities with highest start-up rates in 2011, then it is worth reading the full report. Similarly the report reveals which part of the UK attracts the highest value of angel investment, second only to London and the South East.
At BGF, we recognise that these types of businesses are an integral part of the economic recovery and through a deeper understanding the entrepreneurial talent in the UK, we can better provide the right finance and networks to help their continued growth and development.
The report, hosted on the Barclays Wealth website, also features interviews with BGF CEO Stephen Welton and Richard Phelps, Managing Director, Barclays Wealth and Investment Management.
The full BGF and Barclays Entrepreneurs Index can be read here.