Growth Journey: Benson Group

Benson Group is one of the UK’s largest manufacturers of printed folding carton and sleeve packaging to the food retail sector, and 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.

After holding an investment in Benson Group for just over two years, we sold our stake in the business in a £100million deal with NYSE-listed Graphic Packaging International in February 2014.

During the investment period, we helped to implement a plan focused on driving organic growth; leveraging Benson Group’s unique ‘quick-response’ capabilities in the convenience food market, whilst at the same time, maintaining its high standards of customer service and product quality.

Considerable investment was also made in core infrastructure with new plant and machinery installed at all of Benson Group’s UK operations. This culminated in the business’ largest ever print investment earlier this year, with a new state-of-the-art format perfecting press machine at the Gateshead site.

To better support this level of investment and expansion, we also worked with the business to appoint Dr Helene Roberts as Group Marketing Director – a move that further strengthened the senior management team.

Benson Group delivered strong financial growth over the two years of our investment, with annual turnover rising to £120million. This, alongside the business’ fantastic reputation for consistently delivering high-quality packaging products to the fast-moving convenience food market and its un-paralleled service in terms of scale and reaction time to major product launches, meant the company was an attractive acquisition for US-based Graphic Packaging International, a leading provider of packaging solutions to the food, beverage and other consumer markets.

Given Graphic Packaging’s ambitions to further strengthen its growing strategic position in the European printed folding carton sector, Benson Group’s core expertise in the convenience market represented an attractive acquisition opportunity. This, alongside the business’ track record of delivering exceptional service levels provided an ideal complement to Graphic Packaging’s success through operational excellence.

This highly successful exit to a major global corporate epitomised how private equity working in partnership with a high quality management team can help to grow a business, and ensure that it is strategically positioned to embark on the next phase of its development with the right buyer.

The deal with Graphic Packaging enabled Benson Group to become an important contributor in the US-business’ ambitious growth plans for Europe, and the enlarged group is now delivering the combined benefits to achieve further success in this key geographic market.

Mark Kerridge, managing Director of Benson Group Said: “We enjoyed a close working relationship with the Midlands team at LDC and they were instrumental in helping us to deliver on our growth objectives. Their support and strategic input was invaluable and provided Benson Group with a strong foundation upon which to progress further.”

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by Sophie Reed