LDC exits Benson Group in a £100million deal with NYSE-quoted Graphic Packaging Intl

LDC has completed the sale of its stake in Benson Group, one of the UK’s largest manufacturers of printed folding carton and sleeve packaging, in a £100million deal with Graphic Packaging International (NYSE: GPK).

LDC took a significant stake in Benson Group in December 2011 and the transaction provides an excellent return for LDC in just over two years. 

Based across four production sites, Benson Group is a major supplier of printed folding carton board packaging to the food retail sector. The business also has a major presence in the healthcare market, as a manufacturer of cartons, patient information leaflets and labels for pharmaceutical customers in the UK and Europe. 

Benson Group has a market leading reputation for consistently delivering high-quality packaging products to the fast-moving convenience food market, providing an un-paralleled service in terms of scale and reaction time to major product launches, as well as delivering excellent customer service on a day-to-day basis.
Benson Group’s customer base comprises a host of blue-chip businesses, including Two Sisters Food Group, Reckitt Benckiser, Greencore and Samworth Brothers. The business employs more than 900 staff and operates from its head office in Bardon in Leicestershire, as well as strategically located manufacturing sites in Newcastle, Gateshead and Crewe. 

Since investing in Benson Group, LDC has worked in close partnership with the management team led by Managing Director Mark Kerridge, to implement a strategic plan focused on driving organic growth. This has largely focused on leveraging the business’ unique ‘quick-response’ capabilities in the convenience food market, whilst maintaining the very highest standards of customer service and product quality.

Alongside this, the business has also made considerable investment in its core infrastructure with new plant and machinery installed at all of its UK operations. In 2014, the business will complete its largest ever print investment, with the purchase of a state-of-the-art format perfecting press machine, to be housed at its site in Gateshead. In line with this investment and expansion, the business has also grown its senior management team, with the appointment of Dr Helene Roberts as Group Marketing Director in 2013. 

Headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia, Graphic Packaging International is a leading provider of packaging solutions to the food, beverage and other consumer markets. The acquisition of Benson Group will further strengthen Graphic Packaging International’s growing strategic position in the European printed folding carton sector, particularly through Benson Group’s core expertise in the convenience market. 

Benson Group has delivered strong financial growth over the two years of LDC’s investment, with annual turnover rising to £120million in the current financial year.

The original investment and ultimate exit from Benson Group was led by LDC’s Chief Investment Officer Martin Draper, together with Nottingham-based Investment Director Andy Grove, who both acted as LDC’s representatives on the board throughout the investment.

Andy Grove, Investment Director at LDC said:“This exit to Graphic Packaging International represents an excellent outcome for Benson Group. Having worked closely with the management team for just over two years, we were keen to ensure the right strategic fit was achieved for the business and we are confident that we have delivered on this objective. We wish everyone at Benson Group continued success in the future.” 

Commenting on LDC’s investment and support during the investment period, Mark Kerridge, Managing Director of Benson Group added: “We have enjoyed a close working relationship with the Midlands team at LDC in recent years, during which time they have been instrumental in helping us to deliver on our growth objectives. Their support and strategic input has been invaluable and Benson Group now has a strong foundation upon which to progress further. 

“This is a fantastic opportunity for Benson Group to become part of Graphic Packaging’s ambitious growth plans for Europe. Whilst Graphic Packaging has delivered success through operational excellence, we have achieved success through service.  We are looking forward to working within the enlarged European group to deliver the benefits of both to our customers to achieve further success.” 

To complete the transaction, LDC and management received legal support from Eversheds in Nottingham.

Notes to Editors

  1. LDC is the private equity arm of Lloyds Banking Group and is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.  
  2. LDC backs ambitious management teams from UK-based medium sized companies seeking up to £100m of investment to fund management buyouts or development capital transactions.
  3. LDC invests in a broad range of sectors and has particular experience in Healthcare, Industrials, Retail & Consumer, TMT, Travel & Leisure, Support Services, Construction & Property and Financial Services.
  4. LDC has a UK regional network with locations in Aberdeen, Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Leeds, Newcastle, London, Manchester, Nottingham and Reading.