News about 5 UK growth companies and/or accelerators (turnover in brackets) in the GRID marketplace, 6th – 12th March 2016:
Robinson Webster (£89m) | Property Partner | Yeo Valley (£284.2m) | The7stars (£140m) | Kafoodle (£1.5m) | Hotel Chocolat (£81.1m) | Watkin Jones (£244.2m)
ROBINSON WEBSTER: Sale is last piece for Jigsaw | Daniel Dunkley and Oliver Shah, The Sunday Times. 6 March
Business: owners of fashion chain and high street retailer Jigsaw
ICB Classification: 5371 Apparel Retailers
Founders: John and Belle Robinson, former husband and wife team
Staff: run by former John Lewis director Peter Ruis
Financials: Last year made underlying profits of £5.4m on revenues of £89m.
News: The founders are considering the sale of a majority or minority stake, or a float of the company – which could be worth more than £50m - sources said.
PROPERTY PARTNER: Crowdfunder is hot property | Kiki Loizou, Sunday Times.
Business: crowdfunding website that aims to create a “stock exchange” for small investors to bet on property prices. Lets consumers invest as little as £50 in buy-to-let flats and houses. Like owning a share in a company, investors receive a small stake in a property — as well as a share of the rental income. They are free to sell up, or increase their holdings, in the Property Partner online market. Has more than 6,000 users, who have invested a total of £24m. Property Partner selects properties and exchanges contracts before listing them on its site. Customers pay a one-off 2% fee on their investments, with Property Partner keeping 10.5% of any rental income.
ICB Classification: 8777 Investment Services
Founder: Daniel Gandesha, 33
Investment: Investors - Index Ventures, Dawn Capital and Octopus Investments
News: has raised £16m from investors to launch new services and expand internationally.
* YEO VALLEY: Yoghurt maker churns out cash | Peter Evans, Sunday Times.
Business: Britain’s biggest maker of natural yoghurt. It owns 1,500 acres of farmland and produces more than 2,000 tons of organic produce each week.
ICB Classification: 3577 Food Products
Founder: The business is owned by the Mead family — including 77-year-old Mary and her son Tim, 52, who is chief executive.
Financials: sales increased 3.3% to £284.2m in the 12 months to May. Nearly doubled its profits to £6.6m last year after buying Coombe Farm Fruits, the farm that produces most of its ingredients. Coombe Farm makes fruit conserves used in many of Yeo Valley’s products, including its yoghurts and compotes.
THE7STARS: How I Made It: Jenny Biggam, co-founder | Laura Onita, Sunday Times.
Business: media buying agency. It buys media space and measures advertising campaigns for customers such as fashion chain Jigsaw, Virgin EMI Records and betting business Gala Coral.
ICB Classification: 5555 Media Agencies
Location: The7stars has long outgrown its original offices, having to relocate four times within a decade. Named after the (brilliant) Lincoln's Inn, London WC2 pub where the idea was born.
Founders: Jenny Biggam, 49 and Mark Jarvis and Colin Mills
Financials: sales of more than £140m and profits of £1.2m. Revenues are expected to hit £220m in the financial year ending this month. The central London company has grown 30% year-on-year for three years.
Investment: The venture was founded with savings and an undisclosed amount from an angel investor, whom they bought out four years later. Steady growth and profits have attracted bids from large companies, but the founder is not interested. Biggam owns about 40% of the business.
1. Last week, for the fourth year in a row, was named one of The Sunday Times top five best small companies to work for.
2. Ten years ago, television and print media brought in most of her business; today Twitter and Facebook play a huge part in clients’ briefs.
KAFOODLE: Brush with death sparks app's safe dining plan | Alex Lawson, Evening Standard. 7 March
Business: app has two functions — one allows chefs to manage the ingredients, cost and make-up of their menus (for a fee), the other gives consumers free information on which establishments they can eat at safely. the duo have identified 21 million people across the UK who have some kind of intolerance, while in the US it is claimed half the population lives undiagnosed with some form of allergy.
ICB Classification: 5377 Specialized Consumer Services
Founders: Tarryn Gorre and Kim Antoniou
Staff: 10 chief executive Jackie Grech
Financials: 2016 forecast £1.5m
Investment: After founding the business with their own money — and that of a silent third partner — the pair will this month hit the investment trail, attempting to raise £1 million to spend on marketing, as well as extensions of the app and expansion to the health-conscious US.
HOTEL CHOCOLAT: seeks to raise £50m from London listing | Aliya Ram and Gavin Jackson, FT. 10 March
DZ profile: Hotel Chocolat Plc
Business: makes and sells luxury chocolate in Britain. Has 84 shops, including five that also have cafés, and 500,000 customers online. Has built a base of 70,000 “tasting club” customers who each month pay to receive, and rate, its products.
Location: Manufacturing plant in Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire.
Founders: Angus Thirlwell and Peter Harris
Financials: In the year to June 28 2015, reported revenues of £81.1m against £76m the year before. It made £3m in pre-tax profits against a loss of £4.7m in 2014.
Investment: The co-founders will each sell £20m stakes, leaving them with about two-thirds of the company and joint control. Has previously raised the bulk of its development finance through “chocolate bonds”, where the tasting club members invest £4,000 with a 7.3 per cent return paid in chocolate.
1. plans to raise about £50m by listing on Aim, London’s junior stock market, to fund new stores and an improved website, and boost its manufacturing capabilities. The offering will also include £10m of new shares. The listing is expected between April and June and is forecast to value the company at about £150m.
2. Mr Thirlwell added that there were no plans to build new hotels until the one on the company’s cocoa plantation in St Lucia was at a state where occupancy was “very high”.
Half-year profits jump 28% as sales continue to rise at upmarket chocolatier | Conor Sullivan, FT. February 23 2017
3. ...will consider a dividend payout this year after a “very successful” Christmas helped propel profits ...pre-tax profit for the six months to December 25 had risen 28 per cent to £11.2m up, up from £8.8m a year earlier. Six-month revenues rose 14 per cent to £62.5m …. the opening of 10 stores contributed 4 per cent of the growth in revenue. … has 93 stores in the UK and overseas and 10 cafés. Digital revenues, which comprise of its website plus the group’s subscription club, grew 11 per cent overall. Sales via the website rose 23 per cent … plans to invest further in its chocolate factory in Cambridge. It has already increased manufacturing capacity at the site by a fifth in the past year. ....still has net cash of £16m, putting it in a strong position for continued expansion.
‘Ice cream of the gods’ sees Hotel Chocolat break £100m | Joanna Bourke , The Evening Standard. July 19, 2017.
4. The firm, which has 98 shops, saw revenue increase 12% to £104m in the year to June 25, which was slightly ahead of market expectations. Since 2016 the upmarket chocolatier has introduced £2.95-a-cone cocoa-infused ice cream to 37 stores, and boss Angus Thirlwell said shoppers have responded well to it.
He also flagged that in-store cafes and a new website for online sales have contributed to “another good year”.
Hotel Chocolat to repay £6.4m ‘mini bonds’ early | Billy Ehrenberg-Shannon, FT June 4, 2018
....has repaid early £6.4m in outstanding “ mini-bonds ”, niche financial instruments that give returns to investors in the form of chocolate or gift cards instead of capital. ...the company was confident it no longer needed the bonds because of improved profits. It reported in September that pre-tax profits for 2017 doubled to £11.2m from £5.6m in 2016, as revenues rose 12 per cent to £105.2m.
Mr Thirlwell said Hotel Chocolat remained focused on pursuing organic growth in the UK, based around its format of shops with attached cafés. Of its 103 stores, which include three boutiques in Copenhagen and a hotel on its working cocoa plantation in the Caribbean, 26 had cafés attached as of February. Hotel Chocolat said the £7.3m it raised through chocolate bonds was “invested in capital projects that supported the growth of the company and developed cocoa sustainability projects in St Lucia and Ghana”. It also said it helped create 600 jobs in the UK.
Business: Welsh construction group specialising in student accommodation. Has built homes for more than 28,000 students on 88 sites since 1999, working with a series of institutional partners. It has 31 new developments in the pipeline. The company manages all stages of the process from acquiring land to running the completed buildings.
Launched: traces its roots to a carpentry firm founded in 1791
Location: Bangor, Wales.
Staff: Family business: Mark Watkin Jones, chief executive.Chaired by Grenville Turner, former chief executive of Countrywide, the listed estate agency.
Financials: In 2015 it made operating profit of £32.5m, more than double the previous year’s £15m, on revenues of £244.2m.
News: plans to raise at least £100m in a flotation this month on London’s junior market and expects to have a market capitalisation of about £255m after it joins Aim on March 23. ZEUS CAPITAL and PEEL HUNT are acting as joint bookrunners and joint brokers.