Manufacturing Growth with the IfM ECS
In January 2015, BGF partnered with the Institute for Manufacturing Education and Consulting Services (IfM ECS) to host the inaugural Manufacturing Growth Roundtable Dinner for chief executives and owner-managers of small- and mid-sized manufacturing businesses. The event, held at Christ’s College, Cambridge, provided an opportunity for guests to discuss their views, experiences or intentions of raising funds to support growth.
Professor Sir Mike Gregory, head of the IfM, welcomed guests to the evening dinner, and spoke of the importance of bringing together Britain’s ambitious entrepreneurs to share ideas, knowledge and contacts. Speaking after the event, he commented, “Our collaboration with the BGF promises to make their ‘patient’ capital approach more widely known and accessible to manufacturing businesses.”
The event was organised by Dr. Karen Smith who leads a team at IfM ECS responsible for supporting small and mid-sized businesses by helping to identify their priorities, develop strategies for the future and build capabilities in key areas. The team provides support through programmes such as PrISMS, which aims to transform the sustainable growth prospects of start-ups and smaller manufacturers in the Eastern region of the UK.
Dr Smith said: “The SME Support Business Unit at IfM ECS is keen to make businesses more aware of the resources and help available to them – and events such as the Manufacturing Growth Series do just that. I am delighted that this joint initiative between IfM ECS and BGF has got off to a flying start.”
The dinner was followed by a roundtable discussion on funding for growth. Ian McKernan, group chief executive of BGF-backed Molecular Products, provided a first-hand account of why the family-run business took the decision to bring on board a minority investor, as well as how the new capital is being used to accelerate growth.
BGF has backed 23 British manufacturing businesses in the past three years, from component engineers in Huddersfield to laser specialists in Glasgow; carpet makers in Kidderminster to packaging experts in Tonbridge – and more. Mark Bryant, head of manufacturing at BGF said about BGF’s work with the IfM ECS: “BGF shares with the IfM the goal of supporting sustainable growth in British manufacturing, and helping build the bigger businesses of tomorrow. As such, we are delighted to have been part of the inaugural Manufacturing Growth Dinner, and look forward to meeting more entrepreneurs and owner managers through our work with the IfM ECS.”
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 invested £5m growth capital in Plastique, a manufacturer of thermoformed plastic and pulp packaging.
The company designs and manufactures packaging for customers in the personal care, household products, pharmaceutical, food and broader retail markets. Headquartered in Tunbridge Wells, Plastique invested BGF’s capital to build its thermoformed pulp packaging capability and expand its manufacturing facility in Poland. With BGF’s support, Plastique became the first European manufacturer of smooth surfaced thermoformed pulp packaging.
After a period of sustained growth, in February 2015, Plastique was acquired by TEQ, an Illinois-based thermoformed packaging company and subsidiary of NYSE listed ESCO Technologies Inc., for an undisclosed sum.
The acquisition by TEQ will enable the Plastique team to continue to develop their product offering and expand sales opportunities into new geographies and sectors. Plastique’s management team will remain in the business to drive the next phase of growth and oversee the integration with TEQ.
Dr Vince Cable visits BGF portfolio company M Squared Lasers
BGF portfolio company M Squared Lasers hosted Dr Vince Cable, the UK government minister responsible for Business Innovation and Skills during a visit to Glasgow on 8 January 2013.
During the visit Dr Cable toured the company headquarters and was shown some of the latest product development activity and also viewed the manufacturing facility.
The UK’s Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) has funded 14 development projects that will explore potential uses of photonics technology in new manufacturing processes.
Worth £3.6 million overall, the support was announced by the UK government’s business secretary, Vince Cable, on a tour of Glasgow-based M Squared.
The money will fund a series of 18-month feasibility studies looking at the potential for new photonics techniques to be used in market sectors ranging from pharmaceuticals to electronics and security.
You can read more about the scheme here on the Optics.org website.
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.”
Head of Manufacturing
Mark joined BGF in May 2011 and is based in London, with a UK wide role. He is part of senior management and assists the investment teams to assess the operational capability/opportunity of potential investees. He sits on the Board of a number of portfolio companies and works with many others where he is able to add value. He is also a member of the Industrial Development Advisory Board (IDAB).
Mark has had 30 years’ experience in Industry, primarily as the Managing Director/CEO of a number of manufacturing Companies which include Pressurements Ltd, Druck Holdings Plc and General Electric, manufacturing a range of instrumentation and sensors covering sectors from aerospace, automotive, oil & gas to test and metrology. Other Companies include M&H Plastic a manufacturer of rigid plastic packaging for the personal care market. Export throughout the world has been a consistent aspect of these companies. Mark has sold a number of the companies he has led and has successfully integrated bolt-on acquisitions.
Mark is married with two children and has a BA (Hons) in Business Studies from Middlesex University.
“The funding and support BGF provides is ideal for ambitious growing UK Companies. It is a real privilege to meet so many dynamic business’s across the UK and to try to help in a small way to maximise their profitable growth.”