Wednesday January 1st 2020
News about 12 UK growth companies and/or accelerators in the GRID marketplace, 17th – 23rd January 2016:
Micro Scooters £15.5m | Vita £29.8m | Truestart | Honest Burgers £6.9m | Robey Warshaw £24m | Doctify | Atomico | Cocoon Networks | UCL Technology Fund | Portmeirion £68m | UKTI | Sheffield Forgemasters International £70m
MICRO SCOOTERS: duo pick up £2m in dividends | John Collingridge, Sunday Times. 17 January.
DZ profile: Micro Scooters Limited
Business: imports and sells scooters direct and wholesale to retailers including John Lewis. Range includes stunt and adult scooters, balance bikes and accessories. The mothers set up their company in after spotting a child playing on a Swiss-designed Mini Micro scooter in Clapham, south London. The pair travelled to Zurich to convince its inventor, Wim Ouboter, to grant them UK distribution rights. Ouboter’s company now sells scooters in 70 countries.
Location: Colchester, Essex
Founders: Anna Gibson and Philippa Gogarty
Staff: 20 people
Financials: Profits soared 71% to £3.9m in the year to March on sales 17% higher at £15.5m.
1. Gogarty and the Gibson family, who jointly own the company, shared dividends of £907,500 last year and £1.2m in 2014.
2. UPDATE Tommy Stubbington, The Sunday Times. January 1 2017. Scooter pair scoop up £4m. Staff: 35. Financials: the latest accounts show a slight decline in revenues and profits, to £14.7m and £2.6m respectively. Gogarty and the Gibson family shared dividends of £4.3m in the year to March, up from £907,500 the year before.
VITA: Foam maker Vita sparks bidding war | Daniel Dunkley, Sunday Times.
Business: Chemicals company. Makes foam fillings used in bedding, car parts, furniture and nappies.
Financials: €39m (£29.8m) revenues and €28m pre-tax profit in 2014
Investment: delisted from the London Stock Exchange a decade ago in a £700m takeover by American private equity fund TPG which ran into trouble as the financial crisis took hold. This followed three failed takeover attempts in 2005.
1. Has received takeover bids from private equity firms including Miami-based HIG Capital and turnaround fund Rutland Partners, owner of the Bernard Matthews turkey empire.
2. Vita nearly went out of business in 2009 after struggling with its £450m debt.
TRUESTART: Fitness fans create coffee to boost performance | Sunday Times.
Business: have developed a coffee, Truestart, which allows athletes to control their caffeine intake. And just months after starting up, the coffee is on the shelves at NutriCentre outlets in Tesco Extra stores and will soon be stocked by Holland & Barrett.
Founders: Helena and Simon Hills, both 28.
Staff: will see grow to 10 people by the end of the month
Investment: recently received seedfunding — “in the hundreds of thousands of pounds” — from a private investor to support growth.
News: The idea to produce a coffee with set levels of caffeine came two years ago when the pair realised that coffee before training could play havoc with their performance. They used developers in Colombia to create their coffee, with the first jar off the production line last May. Since then, they have joined Entrepreneurial Spark, the start-up accelerator, to hone their skills.
HONEST BURGERS: How I Made It: Phil Eeles, co-founder / Laura Onita, Sunday Times.
DZ profile: Honest Burgers Ltd
Business: 11 burger restaurants. Honest Burgers first served local events such as the famous bonfire night celebrations in Lewes, East Sussex. Within a year it had opened its first restaurant in Brixton, south London, and within another year, a second site opened in Soho.
Founders: Phil Eeles with his friend Tom Barton
Staff: 260. Dorian Waite, 48, is managing director and former operations director of the restaurant chain Bill’s. Barton looks after the brand and Eeles is in charge of operations.
Financials: reported sales of £6.9m — up more than 200% on the previous year. Revenues are forecast to hit £10m this year.
Investment: Eeles and Barton put £5,000 into the start-up. Another £2,500 came from Dorian Waite. Barton looks after the brand and Eeles is in charge of operations. The founders steered clear of outside investors in the early years and funded the second restaurant with loans of £30,000 from relations and friends. £7m investment from ACTIVE PRIVATE EQUITY - backer of the Leon cafe chain and Evans cycle shops - for half the company.
1. plans to open another nine restaurants this year.
2. second place in The Sunday Times Fast Track 100 list of Britain’s fastest-growing private companies.
ROBEY WARSHAW: Just what do investment bankers do for all that money? | Daniel Dunkley, Sunday Times.
DZ profile: Robey Warshaw Llp
Business: “boutique” independent corporate finance firm that charges fees for its advice and experience of putting together deals.
Location: St James’s, London
Founders: Simon Robey and Simon Warshaw, formerly of Morgan Stanley and UBS.
Staff: 9 people
Financials: revenues of nearly £24m last year, with pre-tax profits of £19.4m.
1. Role AB InBev’s £68bn takeover of SAB Miller - was given the task of weighing up AB InBev’s offer and finding the right price.
2. UPDATE - Michael Bow, FT. January 4 2017: Boutique investment bank Robey Warshaw sees profits soar |
Robey Warshaw’s role advising on some of last year’s biggest deals helped almost double profits at the St James’s firm. …and increase turnover to £43.3m from £23.9m for the year to March 31 2016. The three partners at the firm — Robey, Warshaw and chief operating officer Philip Apostolides — will split £36.6 million in profits, an 88% increase on last year. Robey Warshaw prospered in 2015 thanks to its role in some of the year’s largest deals, including BG Group’s £47 billion sale to Shell and AB InBev’s merger with SABMiller. This year is also shaping up well — the firm worked on SoftBank’s takeover of ARM and National Grid’s gas pipeline sell-off.
DOCTIFY: Camden start-up aims to become the go-to online health platform | Alex Lawson, Evening Standard. 18 January.
DZ profile: Doctify Limited
Business: app which allows users to book appointments with specialist doctors, view profiles of them and rate their experiences. The aim is to add transparency and simplicity to an experience synonymous with inconvenient appointments and, when going private, huge, surprise bills. Have built a database of 3000 private and NHS doctors (many come in on a free trial, and then pay) that prospective patients can search.
Location: Triangle Building block within Camden Market, London.
Founder: Suman Saha, an orthopaedic surgeon, and Stephanie Eltz.
Team: chief executive Daniel Jung
Staff: 15 people
Financials: estimated £150 million by 2019
Investment: The company has closed two funding rounds. Backers include advertising guru Sir John Hegarty and Lastminute and NotOnTheHighStreet investor Tom Teichman, who is also on the board of Camden Market owner Market Tech. Saha believes an injection of public, NHS, funds is a distinct possibility.
News: Doctify intends to spin off its advice blog and potentially launch overseas this year.
ATOMICO: Skype co-founder’s Atomico teams up with entrepreneurs | Murad Ahmed, FT. 18 January.
DZ profile: Atomico (uk) Partners Llp
Business: European venture capital fund that manages funds worth about $850m. Invests in technology companies primarily outside California’s Bay Area. Past investments: Supercell, now majority-owned by Japanese technology group SoftBank and has been valued at more than $5bn; and Climate Corp, a weather data company that was bought by Monsanto for $930m.
Founder: Niklas Zennstrom, co-founder of Skype Technologies SA and chief executive officer of Atomico
1. Will bring in “entrepreneur partners” as co-investors, who will invest in Atomico portfolio companies and source their own start-ups for the firm to back alongside them. Includes:
-- Ilkka Paananen and Mikko Kodisoja, co-founders of Supercell, the Finnish games maker behind Clash of Clans;
-- Alex Asseily co-founder of Jawbone, the gadget maker;
-- Brent Hoberman, co-founder of Lastminute.com and Made.com, the British internet commerce sites.
2. Has hired Niall Wass, the former chief executive of Wonga, the payday lender - who went on to hold a senior role at Uber - who joins as an “executive in residence” to help young entrepreneurs build their businesses. Others joining include former executives at Spotify, Virgin Group and Rdio.
3. Will address two key disadvantages experienced by European start-ups compared with their US peers:
i) to provide the financial backing to enable them to expand rapidly.
ii) would help less-seasoned entrepreneurs by “bringing them together with people who have experience scaling up really big companies”.
COCOON NETWORKS: UK tech start-ups set for £500m Chinese fund boost | Hugo Greenhalgh, FT. 20 January
Business: Chinese investment firm
Founder: John Zai, chief executive
Investors: backed by private equity companies China Equity Group and Hanxin Capital, the UK and China High Tech Fund
News: will launch a £500m venture capital fund to invest in European technology companies. It will seek out businesses that could be successfully imported back home and concentrate on start-ups in the fintech, biotech sectors on the UK’s creative industries. Start-ups that are keen to move into China will be given additional help in navigating the country’s legislation and business laws.
LENDINVEST, a P2P mortgage platform - last year, Beijing Kunlun Tech Co invested £22m.
MUBI, a UK film streaming company - last week, Huanxi Media, listed in Hong Kong, announced it was joining forces to launch a similar service into China.
ISTART VENTURES: a tech incubator and angel fund. Cha Li, founder and managing partner
HERE EAST: the digital quarter in London’s Olympic Park. Gavin Poole, chief executive.
UCL: raises £50m to spin new companies out of research | Harriet Agnew, FT. 19 January.
DZ profile: UCL Business Plc
News: University College London: The European Investment Fund, an arm of the EU, and Imperial Innovations, an Aim-listed technology investor that grew out of Imperial College, have each committed £24.75m to a new UCL TECHNOLOGY FUND to build projects from across UCL, including its life sciences, engineering and information technology departments. In the past, other arms of UCL have spun out 60 companies, including:
-- FREELINE, which offers gene therapy for blood disorders
-- AUTOLUS, which is developing cancer treatment.
-- PURIDIFY, a UK bioprocessing company that was spun out of UCL in 2013, was backed by SR One, GlaxoSmithKline’s independent healthcare venture capital fund.
AUTIFONY THERAPEUTICS, which focuses on treating hearing disorders, is incubated by Imperial College London and backed by pharmaceuticals company Pfizer’s venture capital arm, and Imperial Innovations.
Last year the University of Oxford raised £300m for a joint venture to develop science and technology businesses, one of the largest attempts to commercialise intellectual property in the UK. The University and Isis Innovation, its technology commercialisation subsidiary, teamed up with a new company, Oxford Sciences Innovation, to develop research from the university’s mathematical, physical, life sciences and medical sciences divisions, and commercialise their ideas into companies
PORTMEIRION: plumps up profits with new kiln coming | FT. 19 January
Business: AIM-listed tableware company and manufacturer. Owner of Spode and Royal Worcester brand
Staff: Dick Steele, Non-executive Chairman
Financials: Sales are expected to be “over £68m, an increase of at least 11 per cent over the previous year.” Profits for 2015 will be ahead of market expectations, with sales in the UK “particularly robust”.
News: A new kiln, announced last year, was installed and commissioned during 2015 within timescale and budget without any disruption to existing production. The kiln will be brought into production from the start of February to meet expected demand for UK manufactured product in 2016.
Lord Lamont made UK’s trade envoy to Iran | Jim Pickard, FT. 20 January.
UK TRADE AND INVESTMENT (UKTI)
Activity: Government department which supports companies selling goods and services overseas.
Staff: About 2,500 people. Has about 450 staff working at its London headquarters, more than 600 elsewhere in Britain and 1,300 working on trade promotion abroad.
Budget: cut in November by £42m against a previous estimate of £1.2bn for the four-year Whitehall spending period.
1. David Cameron, prime minister, has set a target of doubling the UK’s annual exports to £1tn by 2020 but official forecasters have warned that export growth could average less than 5 per cent a year from 2015 — less than half the rate needed.
2. Lord Lamont has been appointed as the UK’s trade envoy to Iran as part of a wider government attempt to reverse Britain’s underwhelming record of exports. Lord Lamont, who already chairs the BRITISH IRANIAN CHAMBER OF COMMERCE, is one of 12 new trade envoys, most of whom are former Conservative MPs. There are now 24 trade envoys representing Britain’s interests in 50 high-growth emerging markets, from Ethiopia to Taiwan. Lord Maude was appointed last summer as trade minister to revitalise export performance.
3. UKTI will be rebranded as a “strategic hub” supporting activity across Whitehall, with many of its officials working out of other departments. For example, the quango will lend sectoral experts to Defra, the environment department, to set up a “Great British Food Unit”. Ministers in each department will become responsible for the development and delivery of sector export plans. UKTI will also offer more “practical and direct” support products for companies, instead of just advice. These will be piloted in the coming months, ministers said.
SHEFFIELD FORGEMASTERS INTERNATIONAL: Sheffield steelmaker cuts up to 100 jobs amid oil and gas slowdown | Andrew Bounds, FT. 20 January.
Business: Britain’s last independent steelmaker. Makes steel for its own castings and forgings to manufacture parts for the nuclear, engineering and oil industries. Also supplies ingots and coil rolls to others. Its plan to build a 15,000 tonne press to make the biggest nuclear forgings in the world was ended in 2010 when the incoming coalition government cancelled a £80m loan offered by Labour.
Launched: 300-year-old company
Staff: employs 700 after shedding about 80 jobs last year
Financials: accounts for the 18 months to the end of 2014, after it changed its recording date, recorded a loss of £9.4m on turnover of £122m. Annual turnover in 2014 was about £70m. In its last 12-month accounting period, to June 30 2013, turnover was £100m and pre-tax profit £1.6m. Net debt doubled from £8.4m in June 2013 to £16.6m at the end of 2014.
Investment: Graham Honeyman, chief executive led a management buyout that saved the company from liquidation in 2005 and owns 49.5 per cent of the company. Mr Honeyman dismissed speculation that Forgemasters required fresh investment.
1. is cutting up to 100 jobs and has recorded its first loss for more than a decade and blamed a slowdown in the oil and gas sector as well as the collapse in steel prices. Mr Honeyman said the oil and gas markets that accounted for 42 per cent of turnover had almost disappeared because of low oil prices.
2. He expected Forgemasters to break even by 2017 because it had advanced technology and was winning contracts in the US, Russia and in the defence industry.