LDC has backed the management buyout of premium UK based shower brand Aqualisa for an undisclosed price from Sankaty Advisors, LLC, the credit affiliate of Bain Capital, and RBS.
Aqualisa designs and manufactures a range of market-leading digital, mixer and electric showers and accessories, retailing through builders’ merchants, distributors, specifiers, and showrooms.
Founded in the 1970s, Aqualisa has earned a reputation for innovation over almost four decades. Its patented, bi-metallic shower valve, which reduces limescale build-up, revolutionised the market in the 1980s and is still manufactured by the company today. It also launched the first digital shower in 2001 and introduced new wireless remote technology in 2005.
Aqualisa is the market leader in digital showers - one of the fastest growing categories in the bathroom products market - where its patented processing unit delivers superior product performance, unrivalled reliability and improved water efficiency. The company’s commitment to R&D over the years has seen it receive the Queens Award for Enterprise and Corgi Product of the Year.
As part of the transaction, LDC has made a significant equity investment, backing a management team led by CEO, David Hollander. The investment was led by LDC Director Andy Lyndon and Investment Director Ben Snow, both of whom will join the board.
Following the deal, Aqualisa plans to accelerate its investment in new product development to introduce new technologies to the digital, mixer and electric categories, as well as continuing its investment in its loyal base of installers and customers to drive greater organic growth across the wider market.
As part of the deal, Steve Lee will join the board as non-executive Chairman, bringing with him a wealth of experience in sector from his time with Bristan and Methven and as President of the Bathroom Manufacturers Association.
Ben Snow, investment director of LDC, said: “Aqualisa is a Great British success story, whose design and technology-led approach to manufacturing has driven innovation in the market for decades. With a first-class management team, a clear roadmap for new product development, a market leading brand and a truly differentiated proposition, we’re hugely excited about the opportunity to achieve even greater scale and success in the years ahead.”
David Hollander, CEO of Aqualisa, said: “This is the start of an exciting new chapter in Aqualisa’s story, one that began in 1976 with a commitment to change the market for the benefit of owners, installers and trade customers. Partnering with LDC will allow the business to drive further growth through innovation and new product development, investing in our customers and channels, and capitalising on the strength of the Aqualisa brand, unlocking the potential that exists in the business.”
So far this year, LDC has invested over £300m of equity across 13 transactions, including events and exhibitions group NEC, insurance technology provider SSP, snacks brand Seabrooks and online travel agent Iglu. It has pledged to invest £1.2bn of equity into Britain’s mid-market businesses over the next three years.
The investment also forms part of LDC’s manufacturing commitment, which it set up in 2011 to stimulate investment in specialist engineering and manufacturing businesses across the UK. To date, it has invested over £350m and aims to inject a total of £550m of equity into the sector by the end of 2016. Other investments from the commitment this year include Mini-Cam, which specialises in pipeline inspection equipment, and BOFA International, a designer and manufacturer of fume extraction systems.
Aqualisa’s management team was advised by Springboard Corporate Finance and CMS Cameron McKenna, and the sellers were advised by Catalyst Corporate Finance.
LDC was advised on the deal by PwC, CiL and Wragge Lawrence Graham & Co.
HSBC, advised by Gateley, provided banking facilities for the transaction.