LDC, the UK’s leading mid-market private equity investor, has backed the management buyout of OCS Asset Solutions, a major provider of specialist retail and financial support services, from international facilities management services company, OCS Group Ltd. The deal, which includes a £13m investment from LDC, will see the firm’s six-strong management team co-invest for a significant stake.
Previously trading as OCS Asset Solutions, the business - Asset Solutions Group, which will trade as Retail & Asset Solutions and Vehicle & Asset Solutions in the UK and Retail & Vehicle Solutions in Ireland - is a leading provider of supply chain management, stocktaking and merchandising services to the grocery and general retail sector, as well as vehicle and asset auditing to the finance and banking sector. Customers include big brands Sainsbury’s, Jack Wills, Tesco and Close Brothers.
Headquartered in Orpington, Kent, it generated sales of £35m in the financial year ending 31 December 2017 and expects to achieve growth of around 15% in the current year, thanks to increasing demand for its services.
As well as providing highly-trained, on-site personnel for major outsourced stocktaking and merchandising assignments, the business has also developed specialised expertise in RFID technology for stock accuracy and loss prevention as well as supply chain assurance services; helping retailers track and verify goods received from suppliers, checking pick accuracy and supplying ‘Good Faith Receiving’ (GFR) programs.
For wholesale vehicle and asset funders, the group provide an independent audit facility utilising GPS vehicle monitoring technology, as well near-field communications (NFC) technology for dealer self-audit services.
Following the deal, the management team plans to invest further in technology-enabled services, consolidate the company’s position in the UK and review expansion opportunities into several overseas markets where it sees significant growth potential.
Led by CEO Lois Heywood, the management team includes Finance Director David Wilson, Sales Director Graham Parker, Operations Director Paul Neal, HR Director Lucy Moore and Operations Director Marc Yardley.
The business has also appointed Greg Ball as Non-Executive Chairman. Ball has held main board positions within Littlewoods and Home Retail Group. LDC Investment Directors Rob Schofield and Victoria Marcer will also join the board.
Lois Heywood, CEO of Asset Solutions Group, said: “This is an exciting development for the business; for our customers, our people and our partners. OCS Group has been a supportive parent company which has helped us develop a strong proposition and position in the market. Bringing on board an experienced investor like LDC means we can now accelerate investment in our services and further unlock the potential we see across our business and the markets in which we operate, both in the UK and overseas.”
She added: “With increasing demand for more sophisticated, technology-enabled assurance and audit services from the retail and financial sectors, we’re now ideally placed to continue our growth and help more customers reduce operating costs.”
Rob Schofield, Investment Director at LDC, said: “We’ve been working with Lois, OCS and the management team for a number of months to get this transaction to fruition. We’ve been hugely impressed by the quality and drive of the management team, and the breadth and quality of the customer offering for both the retail and finance sectors.
“We’re keen to identify more firms where private equity can be the catalyst needed for management to bring the company they run into independent ownership and accelerate its growth with a fresh injection of energy, focus and incentive.”
This investment follows the £22.5m MBO of Precision Micro Limited, Europe’s market-leading photo-chemical etching company, from global aerospace, defence and energy group Meggitt PLC.
LDC was advised by the Birmingham offices of PwC (due diligence) and Browne Jacobson (legals).
Asset Solutions Group was advised by the Birmingham office of Shakespeare Martineau (legals).
The OCS Group was advised by the Birmingham office of BDO (corporate finance advisory).