COMPANIES: CityFibre to Portmeirion

Published by Directorzone Markets Ltd on April 25, 2016, 9:00 am in News, Other

IMAGE: courtesy of Chrys Omori Texture 03


News about 9 UK growth companies and/or accelerators + turnover in the GRID marketplace, 17th – 23rd April 2016:


Chaucer Foods £96m | Caterham £19.8m | Isansys | Bare Conductive | £23m | Steelite International £102m | Cityfibre £6.4m | The Property Software Group £15.9m | Portmeirion £68.7m

CHAUCER FOODS: Raisin kings set for £100m sale | The Sunday Times. April 17.
Additional information from and The Yorkshire Post.
DZ profile:

Business: Specialist food ingredients and products business manufacturer of freeze-dried fruit and one of the top suppliers to Kellogg's, Heinz, Unilever, Kraft, Nestle and Starbucks. Sells products in more than 30 countries.
-- Freeze-dried fruit business accounts for 80 per cent of sales and it has freeze-drying facilities in Saumer in France and in China. The largest industrial user of strawberries in the world, it grows its own strawberries in Chile, Tunisia and China. It uses 25,000 tonnes of fresh strawberries a year, creating 2,000 tonnes of freeze-dried ones.
-- The bread division, Chaucer UK, has a bakery in Derby
-- Founded in Kent, it moved to Hull in 1988 to be closer to its two main raw material suppliers, William Jackson Food Group and AAK UK.
ICB Classification: 3577 Food Products
Launched: 1980
Location: Hull.
Staff: More than 500 working at sites in the UK, United States, China and France. Chief executive Andrew Ducker and chairman David Manning, long-standing business partners who joined the business in 2011.
Financials: $140m (£96m) turnover. Profits of roughly £20m a year. 70 per cent of revenues from international sales. Has debts of $40m after a management buyout in the pre-financial crisis year of 2005.
Investment: Royal Bank of Scotland, HSBC and Endless - the company doctor behind the rescue of Crown Paints - own 60 per cent of the company with management holding the rest.
1. Is in talks with advisers ahead of a potential auction and could be sold later this year for more than £100m
2. In 2014 Chaucer bought a majority stake in a Californian business, Crunchies Food Company, the leading US freeze-fried brand, to strengthen its position in the fast-growing market for health conscious consumers in America.

CATERHAM: Losses put brake on Caterham | John Collingridge, The Sunday Times.
DZ profile:

Business: Sportscar maker
ICB Classification: 3353 Automobiles
Location: Dartford, Kent
Financials: losses improved to £5.9m for the year to the end of June, against £20.4m for the 18-month prior period. Sales of £19.8m were up 10% on a like-for-like basis. Its parent, Caterham Enterprises, pumped in a further £5.8m of loans during the year, which were converted into shares.
Investment: co-owned by Queens Park Rangers chairman Tony Fernandes. Parent, Caterham Enterprises
1. Cut losses last year but said it was another “disappointing” period as it was forced to shelve expansion plans.
2. has been on a cost-cutting drive, including shedding jobs, and has increased prices as it tries to reach profitability.
3. 2014 collapse of its F1 racing team into administration. It also had to scrap a tie-up with Renault to develop a road car.

Grants can make the crucial difference to start-ups with great ideas but no money | Kiki Loizou, The Sunday Times

DZ profile:

Business: medical technology company In just five years, has developed a lifesaving heart monitor and secured contracts with two Birmingham hospitals. Deals are lined up with healthcare professionals in Germany. The Lifetouch sensor, a small bandage-like strip that wirelessly transmits a patient’s heart signals, can help doctors detect early signs of problems.
ICB Classification: 4535 Medical Equipment
Location: Oxford
Founders: Rebecca Weir, 35, and Keith Errey
Staff: employing 15 staff here and is hiring workers in India, where it next aims to take its business
Financials: £1.8m grant from Innovate UK

DZ profile:

Business: has developed a paint that conducts electricity and can be used to trigger a light switch or activate sounds.
ICB Classification: 2353 Building Materials & Fixtures
Location: near London’s Spitalfields
Founder: American-born Matt Johnson, 33 + Bibi Nelson, Isabel Lizardi and Becky Pilditch, students at the Royal College of Art
Staff: 10
News: In 2010 he won an Innovate UK competition and was awarded £100,000. “That money took us from having nothing in the bank to having a product for sale, which is the largest leap our company will ever make,” said Johnson.

MONEY.CO.UK: I’m preparing to do battle with meerkats and opera singers | Laura Onita, The Sunday Times.
DZ profile:

Business: price comparison website which helps people find deals on everything from mortgages and credit cards to car insurance. The website makes money through commission, which varies based on the products and whether users end up making a purchase. The companies that pay commission are listed first.
ICB Classification: 5377 Specialized Consumer Services
Launched: 2000
Location: offices in Cirencester, Gloucestershire and Fleet Street, central London.
Founder: Chris Morling, 46.
Staff: 48
Financials: profits of £15.4m on sales of £23m in 2014 and revenues are expected to reach £27m in 2015.
Investment: Morling and his wife, Gael, 45, own 100% of the company. Adamant that does not want funds from angel investors, although he does not rule out an exit:
1. Diversified offering from three product areas to 56 after the financial crisis unfolded in 2008.
2. Hopes to turn into a top-three player over the next few years, but admitted that competing with the likes of and will not be easy

STEELITE INTERNATIONAL: Remodelling roles helps ceramics company retain older workers | Brian Groom, FT. April 20.
Additional information from The Stoke Sentinel
DZ profile:

Business: ceramics manufacturer which makes tableware for the hospitality industry.
ICB Classification: 3722 Durable Household Products
Location: Middleport, Stoke-on-Trent
Staff: 1,600 people worldwide. Of Steelite’s 876 UK employees, 360 are aged 50 or over. Its eldest worker is 69 years and its youngest 17. chief executive Kevin Oakes
Financials: £102 million turnover in 2015 – up 8.6 per cent from £94 million in 2014. Revenues were helped by strong performances in the UK and Ireland, Iberia, Germany and the Far East, as well as a 13.5 per cent rise in the US.
News: is shortlisted in the Championing an Ageing Workforce category of the Responsible Business Awards. Policies include flexible working and phased retirement, continuous training, removal of upper age limits from apprenticeships and graduate programmes and sometimes redeployment to less physically arduous roles. Its managers believe that the mix of ages enables older workers to train apprentices and pass on knowledge that is needed for the company’s future. Steelite says older workers are less likely to change jobs than younger colleagues and often have a stronger commitment to the company.

CITYFIBRE: delivers first profit ahead of schedule | Nicholas Megaw, FT. April 19
DZ profile:

Business: fibre broadband group - builds and operates fibre optic networks for customers such as Vodafone to help connect mobile calls and provide broadband.
CityFibre’s network covers around 20 per cent of the UK. BT supplies about four in every five broadband connections in the UK through its Openreach network. BT’s re-emergence as a direct competitor to operators such as Vodafone has made them reluctant to give the group additional business by using its Openreach network. CityFibre has signed deals with Vodafone and Three, and is working on a joint venture with Sky and TalkTalk to provide high-speed fibre connections to homes in York.
ICB Classification: 6535 Fixed Line Telecommunications
Staff: Greg Mesch, chief executive
Financials: reported full-year results for 2015. Revenues increased 67 per cent to £6.4m, with a pre-tax loss of £6.4m, 9 per cent lower than 2014. Adjusted ebitda declined by 20 per cent to £2.9m, in line with expectations.
Investment: began trading on Aim, London’s Alternative Investment Market, two years ago following a £16.5m fundraising, and the company raised an additional £30m through a placing in June 2014.
1. CityFibre made a profit for the first time - in the first three months of 2016 - as the benefits from demand for alternatives to BT’s Openreach network.
2. The £90m acquisition of a national fibre and duct network from KCom, the regional telecoms group, helped it to become profitable six months earlier than it had planned and tripled the size of its high speed fibre network. The national network acquired comprises 1,100km of fibre lines in 24 towns and cities, and a national long distance network of 1,100km that connects 22 towns and cities. The extended network will cover 7,000 cell sites, 245,000 businesses and 3.5m homes, or about 15 per cent of the UK market. “This accelerates our business plan by seven years,” Mr Mesch said.
3. Mesch said that CityFibre would be one of the biggest users of the improved ducts and poles access. It is working with BT on its first city trial. He hopes that this will reduce costs of providing fibre to the home by 25–30 per cent.
4. “Now it’s all about scaling up,” says Mr Mesch, who adds that CityFibre is regularly approached by private equity, infrastructure and rival groups.

THE PROPERTY SOFTWARE GROUP: Zoopla strikes £75m estate agency software deal | Judith Evans, FT. April 20.
DZ profile:

Business: market leader in estate agency software, with a back-office system used by 8,000 estate agency branches and boasts a customer retention rate of more than 97 per cent.
ICB Classification: 9537 Software
Staff: Mark Goddard, PSG’s chief executive, will become chief executive of Zoopla’s property services division
Financials: revenues of £15.9m in the year to the end of March
Investment: currently backed by LDC, the private equity arm of Lloyds Banking Group
News: Property portal Zoopla is to buy PSG for £75m as it battles with rivals Rightmove and OnTheMarket for the loyalty of agents. About 5,000 of the software company’s customers do not so far use Zoopla, offering an opportunity for bundled selling.

PORTMEIRION: fights back in ceramic sales battle. Queen’s Awards | Brian Groom, FT. April 22, 2016.
DZ profile: Portmeirion Group Public Limited Company

Business: The UK’s only listed potter - known for its English country garden-inspired pottery. Manufactures ceramic tableware, cookware, home accessories, gifts, placemats, coasters and trays and has four brands — Portmeirion, Spode, Royal Worcester and Pimpernel.
-- More than 70 per cent of its products are exported to over 60 countries. The company’s biggest foreign markets are the US and South Korea, but it recently launched in China, Taiwan and Thailand and re-entered the Japanese market.
-- bought Spode and Royal Worcester out of administration in 2009 and moved some of the production of its Spode Blue Italian range back from China. In 2006 it acquired the Pimpernel brand of placemats and coasters.
Launched: 1960
Location: Stoke-on-Trent
Founder: pottery designer Susan Williams-Ellis, daughter of Sir Clough Williams-Ellis, who built the Italian-style Portmeirion village in north Wales. She and her husband created the brand by taking over two existing Stoke businesses, A E Gray and Kirkhams.
Staff: 684
Financials: Pre-tax profit in 2015 increased 13.6 per cent to a high of £8.6m, while revenues reached a seventh consecutive record, up 11.9 per cent to £68.7m.
Investment: quoted on Aim
1. Has won a Queen’s Award for International Trade after raising overseas sales by 51 per cent over six years.
2. Almost half of production is carried out at its Stoke factory, where it recently invested £1.5m in a new kiln and other equipment to raise capacity by 50 per cent. The rest of its output is made at factories around the world, including China.

Portmeirion predicts profit ‘significantly below’ expectations | George Hammond, FT. May 14, 2019

3. ...reported a 10 per cent drop in sales and said its pre-tax profits for the full year would be “significantly below market expectations”, as a steep drop in export sales dragged on its performance.Total sales for the first four months of the year fell by a tenth compared with the same period last year, even as its two largest markets grew.  In South Korea, an important growth market, sales had been “lower than expected”, ... UK and US sales were “good”, increasing 5 per cent and 8 per cent on the same period in the previous year.

4. ...posted pre-tax profits of £9.7m last year, on revenues of £89.6m.

5. The UK’s pottery industry is based around six towns that make up Stoke-on-Trent.The ceramics group meanwhile benefited from an EU-South Korea free trade deal that took effect in June 2011 with Koreans embracing the Botanic Garden brand.