NorthEdge Capital has invested an undisclosed eight-figure sum for a significant majority stake in Abbey Logistics Group, to support an MBO led by CEO Steve Granite.
The Liverpool-headquartered niche logistics provider specialises in the transportation of bulk food products in liquid and powder tankers across the UK and Northern Europe. The investment represents NorthEdge’s fourth deal this year and is the second investment from the recently raised £300m Fund II.
Abbey Logistics was set up more than 25 years ago by the Lucy family, specialising initially in the liquid food ingredients transportation market, with more recent diversification into the bulk powder market. Long-standing relationships with a number of pan-European blue chip customers have been built up over the years enabling Abbey to grow to become a market leader in the food ingredients transportation market.
The company has demonstrated strong year-on-year growth over the past five years with turnover more than doubling from £20m to over £55m in the current financial year following a number of acquisitions and large contract wins. The business employs over 450 staff and operates from nine UK sites including Wirral, Hull, Manchester, Knowsley, Middlewich and London.
NorthEdge, which currently has £525m of funds under management, focuses on northern investments from offices in Manchester and Leeds. The funding will support the business as it continues to expand in an industry worth around £55bn to the economy. Abbey will target growth with new and existing customers, as well as exploring a number of acquisition opportunities that management has been progressing in parallel to the MBO with support from NorthEdge Capital.
The deal will provide a full exit for the founding family and the business will continue to be led by Steve Granite as Chief Executive and Dave Coulson as Commercial Director. NorthEdge Director Jon Pickering led the transaction, with support from Investment Manager Dan Matkin and Portfolio Director Ben Wildsmith. Private equity experienced chairman Ian Kelly joins the board at completion. The board will be further strengthened post completion with the appointment of an industry veteran who will act as Non-Executive Director and a logistics specialist Group Chief Financial Officer who has been identified pre investment.
Steve Granite, Chief Executive at Abbey Logistics, said: “We are delighted to have partnered with NorthEdge to complete the MBO and enable the Lucy family to exit the business. NorthEdge is the right partner for Abbey and we have been suitably impressed with the private equity firm since we first met earlier this year. It is an exciting new chapter in the company’s life and we are very much looking forward to continuing the successful journey we have experienced to date. Our customers and employees will see the benefit as having a new partner on board will enable us to develop our business and continue growing from solid foundations. Through organic and acquisitive growth, Abbey will become the market leader in both the liquid and powder transportation markets in the UK.”
Jon Pickering, Director at NorthEdge Capital, added: “Abbey Logistics is led by an exceptional management team who has been with the business for more than 20 years. They fully understand the specialist logistics market they serve having carved out a niche by distributing bulk powders and liquids for the food ingredients markets. The company has demonstrated growth through a number of major contract wins and targeted acquisitions and this strategy will continue going forward with our support and follow on funding. We are pleased to have provided an exit opportunity for the founders and are looking forward to working with Steve and Dave as we target further expansion across the UK and Northern Europe.”
The company was advised by EY (corporate finance) and Napthens (legal). NorthEdge was advised by a number of regional advisory firms including BDO (corporate finance), Pinsent Masons (legal), Graphene Partners (commercial due diligence) and EY (financial due diligence). KPMG provided support to newco on IT due diligence and tax structuring, Quinn Partnership performed management due diligence and Vista provided insurance due diligence.
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