Simworx is a designer and supplier of advanced media-based theme park attractions. Established by Terry Monkton and Andrew Roberts in 2005, Simworx created the Angry Birds 4D cinema at Thorpe Park for Merlin Entertainments and was again chosen by Merlin to develop and deliver one of the main attractions at Shrek’s Adventure theme park, which opened in London in July. The ride is based on Simworx’s proprietary Immersive Tunnel, where guests board a themed motion simulator and are surrounded by a 360 degree, 3D cinema screen and immersed in lighting, sound, smells and weather effects.
Simworx’ first Immersive Tunnel ride, The Lost Temple, was delivered to Movie Park Germany in May 2014. Since then the business has secured further Immersive Tunnel orders and has been in talks with theme parks in the UK, US, Asia and the Middle East, where there is a trend towards media-based attractions that are cost effective, flexible, and offer visitors an indoor option.
Simworx designs, assembles and delivers its turn-key solutions, with 75 percent of its suppliers for component parts located within 25 miles of their headquarters.
Simworx used part of BGF’s £4.5m investment to acquire RoboCoaster, the game-changing innovator behind some of the world’s most successful theme park rides. Warwickshire based RoboCoaster is led by Gino De-Gol, an internationally recognised developer of Intellectual Property for the use of passenger carrying robotic technology and trackless dark rides. The acquisition will combine RoboCoaster’s pioneering robotics capability with Simworx’s Motion Simulation and Audio Visual experience.
The funding is also being used to double the size of Simworx’s production plant in Kingswinford, increase its demonstration facilities and bring on more staff.
Mike Lloyd joined the business as non-executive chairman. Mike has more than forty years’ experience in engineering, manufacturing and supply chain roles in the electrical machinery and power sectors. His senior leadership roles have included group manufacturing director and President of Rolls Royce Gas Turbines Operations and technical director of GEC Large Machines.
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.”
BGF backing prepares ground for accelerated growth at TCL
In May 2014, BGF invested £10m of growth capital in TCL Holdings Limited (“TCL”), the external property services business.
TCL is a leading provider of estate management and landscape installation, design and consultancy services to private and public sector organisations throughout the UK.
TCL operates nationwide under three separate brand names: TCL Landscapes (landscape consultancy, design and installation primarily to quoted house builders); Clean Estates (estate management services to commercial property managers and property owners) and Admiral Play (design, consultancy and installation of play facilities to house builders, schools and local authorities).
Across its three divisions, clients of TCL include the UK’s large house builders such as Barratt Homes, Persimmon Homes and Redrow Homes and managing agents such as Jones Lang LaSalle, CBRE and Savills.
Headquartered in Northampton, TCL employs approximately 400 people. The business is forecast to turnover approximately £30m in FY14 and has consistently grown its turnover and EBITDA since 2009 despite the recession. In December 2013, TCL was included in London Stock Exchange Group’s ‘1000 companies to inspire Britain’, a report intended to highlight high performing UK based SME’s.
BGF’s £10m growth capital investment will support the company’s organic and acquisition–led growth in an increasingly favourable market. Statistics show that the UK property market continues to rebound, buoyed by government backed schemes such as ‘Help to Buy’ and the need for new housing across the country. As such, all the major UK house builders are forecasting continued strong growth. TCL will also be supported by an £8.4m debt funding package being provided by Investec Growth & Acquisition Finance, who works with entrepreneurs, management teams and investors to provide finance to UK mid-market companies.
As part of the deal, BGF took a minority shareholding in TCL and Stuart Black joined the TCL Board as Chairman via an introduction from BGF’s Talent Network. Stuart is currently Executive Chairman of Lakehouse Group and former CEO of Mears Group PLC, where over a number of years he has gained a wealth of experience working in high growth, customer service focused contracting businesses. Since joining Lakehouse Group in 2008, he has overseen its growth from a £50m turnover business to £300m today.
TCL Chief Executive Simon Cashmore said:
‘We are delighted to have secured funding with long term partners to allow us to continue to build and develop TCL over forthcoming years Despite the economic headwind, TCL has performed extremely well over the last few years and is now ideally positioned to support increased demand from the UK property market.”
Investment Director Mark Freer who joins the TCL board on behalf of BGF commented:
“Our investment in TCL is a great opportunity to back management to continue the company’s excellent growth story in an increasingly favourable market environment. Our funding is well suited to accelerate this through further strategic acquisitions in the sector and also through organic growth.
TCL has created a recognisable branded service offering throughout the UK and we are delighted to be partnering with them.”
Investment Manager James Syrotiuk added:
“We are delighted to be backing Simon and the team, who have grown TCL to be one of the UK market leaders in the property services sector. BGF’s capital and support will help the Company take advantage of its significant opportunity for growth.”
Ninth generation family business partners with BGF
BGF tailors its offer to support family’s long-term plans for hereditary business
BGF has invested £3m in Dudson (Holdings) Limited (“Dudson”), one of the UK’s oldest family-owned businesses that produces ceramic tableware for the travel and hospitality industry . Operating since 1800, Dudson is currently under the stewardship of 8th generation family members Ian, Max and Mark Dudson who act as Non-Executive Chairman, CEO and Group Operations Director respectively. The 9th generation is already represented by Ian’s daughter, Katie, who is the company’s Marketing Manager. The business is headquartered in Stoke-on-Trent and employs over 500 people, with turnover approaching £30m.
Dudson supplies the travel and hospitality industry with high quality durable tableware, which it manufactures at its factories in Stoke-on-Trent and Digoin, France. Dudson acquired its fully automated French manufacturing facility in 2009 and also owns a stake in Furlong Mills, a Stoke-on-Trent clay materials supplier. It sells to customers globally from its six international commercial centres, as well as through a range of distributors and agents in countries throughout the world. Customers include Virgin Rail, Pizza Hut, Virgin Atlantic, Nandos, Princess Cruises, Hilton & Hyatt Hotels.
BGF has provided £3m of long term capital to allow the family to invest in the business, whilst retaining the flexibility to pass the company onto the next generation. The funding will enable Dudson to invest in more efficient manufacturing equipment, streamline production processes at its manufacturing facilities and enhance its sales and marketing capabilities.
This investment comes one month after BGF’s £2.8m investment in another Midlands based family business, Rutland Cycling.
Ian Downing, Investment Director at BGF who joined the company’s board, commented:
“Dudson has an impressive 200-year track record and has carved out a strong niche position in the international market for hospitality tableware. It is a great example of a British manufacturing business that has invested heavily in product and process innovation and successfully taken it products into an international marketplace.
“The company’s board has now identified a clear strategy to develop and grow the business, with the objective of being able to pass on a larger, stronger organisation to future generations. We look forward to bringing both financial and strategic support to the table and to working with the team to deliver on their ambitions.”
Gavin Petken, Regional Director, added:
“This investment is a great example of how BGF can offer flexibility in the way that it structures investment – to best meet the needs of shareholders and put the company on the strongest course of growth. Dudson’s motivation is to invest in the business so it is in the best possible shape for future generations, and the long-term strategy to deliver growth will provide new job opportunities both in Stoke-on-Trent and across its global operations. Our capital is long term, unsecured, and flexible; and there is no pressure for the business to move outside of family control.
We believe this is an approach that will resonate with many family businesses. With the right partner on board, these businesses have a great opportunity to achieve their ambitions, to outperform their competitors and to secure long-term financial security for future generations.”
Max Dudson, CEO of the company is delighted with the new partnership and BGF’s approach to the investment.
“Having been through a restructure we have a clearly identified strategy for growth which requires capital investment to deliver improvements in manufacturing efficiency, new machinery to support growing product categories and further investment to support the expansion of our sales, marketing and design teams to exploit new and developing market opportunities. We were keen to find a partner who had the foresight to invest in our strategy as a supportive partner who could add commercial value to our business as well as inject required capital. BGF’s modus operandi of providing unsecured capital and allowing the incumbent board of directors to retain full control of the business, coupled with their long term perspective, makes this a perfect partnership for Dudson, allowing us to deliver our strategy for growth.”
Midlands based family cycling business partners with BGF
– £2.8m invested to expand Rutland Cycling’s estate of destination stores and e-commerce capability –
In March 2014, BGF continued to support the leisure sector when it invested in one of the UK’s leading independent cycle retailers, Rutland Cycling.
BGF invested £2.8m of growth capital in Rutland, a family owned business that is based in the East Midlands.
The investment will fund the refurbishment and extension of Rutland Cycling’s existing estate of stores; as well as its national expansion, with four new outlets set to open in prominent UK leisure and tourist destinations over the next 4 years. The investment will also enable the business to develop its e-commerce capabilities, including its website www.rutlandcycling.com.
In addition to providing growth capital, BGF introduced the business to Keith Pacey and Keith Fleming who joined the board as non-executive Chairman and non-executive Director respectively. Pacey is the founder, and former CEO and Chairman of Maplin Electronics and has also held a number of NXC seats including at Mountain Warehouse, and LBM Direct Marketing Fleming is the former Finance and Strategy Director at B&Q plc, former CEO at Woolworths Group plc and former CFO of Blacks Leisure Group plc. Tim Whittard, Investment Director at BGF also joined the company’s board.
Rutland Cycling is led by Paul Archer and David Middlemiss who took control of the business in 2013, but have a long history in a business that was originally founded in 1981 by Paul’s parents, Dave and Ann Archer.
Rutland Cycling sells and hires premium cycling products from its four stores in the Midlands and via its website; and is a preferred retailer for the UK’s three best selling cycle brands, Giant, Trek and Specialized. It has been named Independent Cycle Retailer of the Year for three of the last four years and its website consistently ranks among the UK’s top 10 online cycling retailers. The business currently turns over approximately £10m each year.
Rutland Cycling’s retail outlets, which include one of Britain’s biggest bike shops, are located in leisure destinations in Lincolnshire (Rutland), Cambridgeshire (Grafham Water) and Northamptonshire (Fineshade Wood), all of which benefit from extensive cycle trails and high footfall. In addition to retailing and hiring premium products, Rutland Cycling also offers workshop and test ride facilities so that customers can have their bikes set up, adjusted and serviced in store or can try out the product range on relevant terrain.
David Middlemiss, Managing Director at Rutland, reflected that:
“We are extremely pleased to be opening a new chapter, one that will bring exciting developments for our customers and our people. Our vision is to be Britain’s best cycling destination, and our staff have worked incredibly hard over the last year to be recognised as both the UK’s best Independent Bike Retailer and Women’s Independent Bike retailer of the year in recent months.
“Working with BGF now allows Rutland Cycling to realise the ambition we have to take a unique model, rooted in a passion for cycling and customer service, and inspire more people to own and ride a bike. This is excellent news for everyone associated with our business.”
Tim Whittard, Investment Director at BGF who joined the board of Rutland Cycling, commented:
“Rutland Cycling is a business with a thirty year heritage that has developed a strong brand and fantastic relationships with the UK’s best selling bike companies. With the rising popularity in cycling, has come high levels of competition from online retailers in this space and Rutland’s combined bricks and mortar and e-commerce strategy and its differentiated customer offering has enabled it to hold its own in this competitive market.
“Our investment marks the start of a partnership with the company and we look forward to working with the management team, Keith Pacey and Keith Fleming to take a successful well established model and expand it across wider geographies and to reinforce the business’ place in the cycling retail market.”
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,