Roar Global £30m | Eden Research £900k | Jack Wills £137.4m | Giggling Squid £11.8m | Grand Cru Co | True Potential | Beckham Brand Holdings (BBH) £47m | Applied Graphene Materials £250k | Versarien £4.4m
News about 9 UK growth companies and/or accelerators + turnover in the GRID marketplace, 22nd – 28th January 2017:
ROAR GLOBAL: agent has last laugh in takeover of comedy acts | The Sunday Times. January 22
DZ profile: Roar Global Limited
Business: Talent agency whose client list contains celebrities in music, sport and broadcasting, including: Katherine Jenkins, Myleene Klass, Dame Joan Collins and Vinnie Jones.
Location: London W1
Founder: Jonathan Shalit, 54
Financials: The takeover will create one of Britain’s largest talent agencies with revenues of £30m a year.
News: has snapped up a rival whose roster includes some of Britain’s best-known comedians - CHRISTIAN KNOWLES PRODUCTIONS, which acts for top names including Micky Flanagan and Mark Watson.
EDEN RESEARCH: English biotech saves French wine | Peter Evans, The Sunday Times
DZ profile: Eden Research Plc
Business: British bioscience company
Launched: was formed in 2003 through the merger of a British pesticide developer and a US rival.
Location: Cirencester, Gloucestershire
Staff: chief executive Sean Smith
Financials: Last year, Eden made a loss of £1.1m on revenue of £900,000
Investment: Aim-listed business, valued at £18.4m
News: has been granted permission to sell Mevalone, a product it has developed to combat botrytis, grape rot and other plant diseases to vineyards across France. It will do so through a distribution company called Sumi Agro. Eden’s product was developed using the naturally occurring chemicals produced by plants as part of their defence mechanisms. The company claims that it is therefore better for the environment. In particular, it does not harm bees — a common concern when using traditional pesticides. Eden has also received the go-ahead from Italy and Spain, which together with France produce almost half of all the wine produced in the world. The market for botryticides is estimated to be more than $350m (£283m).
JACK WILLS: works out | Oliver Shah, The Sunday Times.
DZ profile: Jack Wills Limited
Business: retail chain and preppy fashion brand. 4 new Jack Wills stores opened during the year and 5 others refurbished, bringing the total of wholly-owned stores to 81 – 66 of which are in the UK, eight in the US, five in Hong Kong and one each in Singapore and Macau.
Location: Salcombe, Devon
Founders: CEO, Peter Williams, 42; Rob Shaw.
Financials: £15.1m pre-tax loss in the year to January 2016. 41.4 per cent drop in full-year EBITDA to £5.1m compared to £8.7m the previous year. Turnover was up by 4.1 per cent to £137.4m compared to £132m the previous year.
Investment: In October 2016 UNION LIFESTYLE Limited acquired 100 per cent of the share capital of the Jack Wills Group from INFLEXION PRIVATE EQUITY. The joint shareholders of Union Lifestyle are BLUEGEM CAPITAL PARTNERS – owners of London department store LIBERTY - and Peter Williams.
1. The Jack Wills managed to raise sales and profitability over Christmas despite drab trading conditions on the high street. The performance was helped by the introduction of a women’s sportswear range, designed to capitalise on the “athleisure” trend — sports and yoga clothes that are fashionable to be worn outside the gym.
Jack Wills to open first German store in fight against currency pressures | Alys Key, City A.M. March 6
2. … will open its first mainland Europe store in Germany, as part of a strategy to increase sales in overseas currencies. The company hopes to offset the effect of the weaker sterling by developing a “natural hedge” through new openings abroad. The decision to expand to Germany comes as a result of strong online sales in the country, which last year jumped by 75 per cent.
Jack Wills fights back | Oliver Shah,The Sunday Times. July 16 2017.
3. Peter Williams the co-founder of Jack Wills has taken the preppy fashion retailer back to profitability two years after he returned to save it from a costly logistics gaffe. ...said he had focused on weaning Jack Wills off discounting.Williams, 43, came back from a three-year “sabbatical” in 2015 after a “constructive parting of the ways” with Wendy Becker, a former McKinsey consultant who had taken over. Williams said he had cut some costs, but insisted the return to profitability was driven by his “obsession” with full-price sales. He said that reining in discounting had been “quite a painful experience”, but higher-quality products had boosted sales and margins.
4. The chain made an operating profit of £730,000 in the year to January against a loss of £13.8m a year earlier. Sales were up 4% to £142.4m.
5. A few years ago, Jack Wills, riding a wave of posh chic, was tipped for a £500m stock market listing, but the passing of the preppy trend and a botched warehouse outsourcing put it in the red.
Meet Peter Williams: The founder of Jack Wills who’s turned ethical fashion into an experience | Paul Dallimore, The Evening Standard. November 3, 2017
6. ...he built the business into a global chain with more than 2800 staff across the UK, Asia, the Middle East and the US, turning over £130m. ...in 2013, Williams handed over to new management. …..soon after Jack Wills had come through the pain of installing that big, corporate IT system, in 2014, new chief executive Wendy Becker pushed the company through yet more turmoil by contracting out its warehouse operations to a third party .....in September, just as the retail world gears up for the peak Christmas season. It didn’t go well. As Christmas came, the company couldn’t get its stock out into its stores and customer orders went unfulfilled. Catastrophe. Becker left the next August. She now sits on the non-executive boards of GREAT PORTLAND ESTATES, LOGITECH, NHS ENGLAND and OXFORD UNIVERSITY PRESS.
The party’s over at Jack Wills | Sam Chambers, The Sunday Times. February 17 2019
7. Suzanne Harlow, 52, was brought in as chief executive last September after 23 years at DEBENHAMS, including a decade there as trading director, overseeing £3bn of sales in everything from clothing to perfume to in-store restaurants, as well as marshalling the department store chain’s continuous cycle of discounting.
8. Harlow was drafted in by BlueGem investor Rob Templeman, for whom she worked for eight years during his controversial stewardship of Debenhams in the early 2000s.Templeman sold and leased back the company’s stores, cut investment and squeezed suppliers to pay down debt loaded on to the chain by its consortium of private equity owners, which included MERRILL LYNCH (the bank’s involvement was overseen by Marco Capello, now managing partner of BlueGem and chairman of Jack Wills).
9. Jack Wills has lost money for five of the past six years. ...ill-judged store expansion - since being acquired by BlueGem in 2016, has increased store numbers by a quarter to 110. A row over Brexit-related cost increases and stock shortages saw BlueGem push out co-founder Peter Williams before Harlow’s arrival. BlueGem and Italian investor Giorgio Girondi put in £20m of emergency funding. Jack Wills has yet to file its 2017 accounts. The business went from an underlying profit of £8m in 2016 to a loss of £11m. Harlow says that deficit halved last year.
10. BlueGem investments include nursery retailer MAMAS & PAPAS, which reported a £9.6m pre-tax loss last year — its third consecutive year in the red.
11. A series of executive departures has left Harlow without anyone in charge of finance, ecommerce or products. The disarray was highlighted last month when JEWSON, the builder’s merchant, issued a winding up petition over a year-old debt.
Struggling Jack Wills chain to offload four stores to cut costs | Sam Chambers, The Sunday Times. February 24 2019
12. has put four stores on the market ….looking to assign leases to new tenants for its stores in Brighton, Chester and Worcester, in the hope of finding cheaper alternatives elsewhere in the cities. ... is also looking to sell the lease on its Cheltenham store.
GIGGLING SQUID: Thai tapas heads for the high street — and avoids London | Laura Onita, The Sunday Times
DZ profile: Giggling Guildford Ltd
Business: Thai restaurant chain: 19 Giggling Squid restaurants in southern England and the Midlands. Giggling Squid serves “Thai tapas”, including roast duck on baby leaves, and gives classics its own twist, such as lamb shank massaman curry. Andy said the stripped-down decor, not overtly ethnic, has helped to lure diners. Customers spend on average £15 on lunch and £22 for dinner.
Location: Guildford, Surrey
Founders: Pranee, 46 and Andy Laurillard, 45. Pranee, who hails from Thailand, oversaw the restaurant — hiring chefs and drawing up the menu — while Andy kept his day job and did the books in the evening. The couple remortgaged their house to fund their first site: an awkwardly shaped, 1,000 sq ft building in Brighton with a hefty £172,500 lease.
Staff: 500. In 2015, former Carluccio’s boss Simon Kossoff was appointed chairman.
Financials: posted a £480,000 pre-tax profit on sales of £11.8m last year.
Investment: In 2015, the Business Growth Fund — the investment company backed by five banks — paid £6.4m for a 29% stake in Giggling Squid. The couple own 71% of the business.
1. Rapid expansion of the chain, which earned a place on the latest Sunday Times Fast Track 100 list of fast-growing private companies.
2. Typically pay £300,000 to fit out a restaurant. They have kept down costs by expanding at a time when provincial high streets are struggling. “Our comfort zone is very much outside London,” said Andy. “That’s a different world: big rents, big business rates and millions of competitors.” They aim to open eight sites this year and build a nationwide chain.
3. Almost half the staff live in rented flats paid for by the company, a perk that uses up about 7% of revenues.
GRAND CRU CO: The founder of wines business is at home in Beckenham | Jamie Nimmo, The Evening Standard. January 23.
DZ profile: Grand Cru Company Ltd
Business: fine-wine trading business and store. Core side of the business is trading fine wines, predominantly into Asia, places like Hong Kong and Singapore. He travels across Europe, finding rare fine wines before jetting off to meet wealthy clients in Asia and treating them to the latest hidden gems he has unearthed.
Launched: 2003; opened the store in the summer of 2015
Location: store in Beckenham, south-east London and office in Battersea, from where he runs the trading arm
Founder: Andy Rose
News: Brexit has made importing wine from the Continent more expensive, but a cheaper sterling has also made the product even more attractive to his Asian clients. He has built up a network of suppliers that he trusts.
TRUE POTENTIAL: David Harrison talks tin baths, skinny men with beards, Boris and why we need a Super Isa | Harriet Green, City A.M.
DZ profile: True Potential LLP
Business: fintech investment management firm offering advice to the public, workplace pensions to thousands of SMEs and tech services (via its platform) to 20 per cent of all UK financial advisers.
Founder: David Harrison, 66, Managing Partner
Staff: currently employs over 250 staff and Partners
Financials: turnover of £56.7m in 2015
Investment: Potential recently sold shares to an American private equity firm
1. In 1997, DH set up POSITIVE SOLUTIONS with colleague Maurice Cotter, an independent financial advice firm. By 2001, it was the largest privately-owned IFA in the country, turning over more than £10m. A year later, it was sold to Aegon for £130m. To set up Positive Solutions, Harrison and Cotter remortgaged their own houses.
2. Now, Harrison advises the government on savings policies. “If it was just down to me, I’d scrap pensions. It’s not going to happen any time soon because people already have them and there are so many vested interests. But we need a truly level playing field: one product, the Super Isa. £25,000 limit with no strings attached on how you can spend it. Auto-enrolment has worked for the consumer, but we still have nowhere near enough financial advisers to service the UK public.”
3. True Potential has invested “the thick end” of £2m to help set up a Centre of Excellence with the Open University to research personal finance and offer free courses. Meanwhile, the Harrison Foundation has donated more than £500,000 to charities across the UK.
4. With son Daniel working alongside him at True Potential, Harrison has also set up the Harrison Partnership with three of his children, undertaking a multi-million pound renovation of Walwick Hall in Northumberland and turning it into a luxury hotel, which opened its doors last October.
BECKHAM BRAND HOLDINGS (BBH): Are critics of the Beckham brand scoring an own goal? | Simon English, Evening Standard. January 24
DZ profile: Beckham Brand Holdings Limited
Business: holding company for Victoria's fashion business, and the licensing of David Beckham's name. VB’s eponymous fashion line launched in 2008, and she opened her first standalone store in London's Mayfair in 2014, selling her main line brand, as well as the more affordable Victoria, Victoria Beckham line. VB launched a special edition of the car, after an 18-month design process, in 2012. Victoria announced the launch of her makeup collection, Victoria Beckham Estée Lauder, in April 2016. VB annouced a "more accessible price point" collection with U.S. retailer Target in October 2016, and the clothes will be available from April 9, 2017.
Location: London SW11
Founders: David and Victoria Beckham. David Beckham: signed a deal with German sports brand Adidas in 1996; signed a deal with Diageo in April 2014 to launch the Haig Club whisky brand; signed up as a brand ambassador for L'Oreal brand Biotherm Homme in May 2016, and is to launch a grooming and skincare line this year. KENT & CURWEN, the clothing company – owned by Trinity International Brands - signed a five-year deal in September 2015 to license the David Beckham name. Beckham has been involved with Swedish clothing brand H&M for five years.
David and Victoria launched their Signature fragrances in New York City in 2008. DB fragrances include The Classic Reinvented, The Essence, Beyond, and his most recent, Beyond Forever.
Staff: 141 staff who are paid nearly £8 million
Financials: 2015 pre-tax profits of £39.5m up from £10m in 2014 on sales of £47m - despite an 8% fall in sales. £7.9m corporation tax. DB made £10m in sales from his brand image rights, while VB’s fashion business made £36.5m in turnover. The loss at VICTORIA BECKHAM LTD is down to investment in staff numbers and the online arm as she grows her business. …her arm of the empire owes his bit towards £7m ….the cheapest form of finance available to fund their joint expansion plan.
Investment: BBH is a third owned by the two Beckhams and Simon Fuller, the talent agent who invented the Idol franchise.
Victoria Beckham secures £30m private equity investment | Javier Espinoza and Cat Rutter Pooley, FT. November 27, 2017
1. ... has received a £30m investment from the private equity group that helped expand French bakery chain PAUL in the UK, in return for a minority stake. The injection by NEO INVESTMENT PARTNERS, which is led by David Belhassen, a former Goldman Sachs banker who ran the bakery chain in the UK from 2000 to 2010, values the business at about £100m.
2. Ms Beckham said the funds would allow her eponymous fashion house “to enhance our digital and physical retail presence and drive growth in our core categories while expanding into new categories to realise the brand’s full potential”. The fashion house has expanded from ready-to-wear collections to accessories, footwear and eyewear, as well as launching high-profile collaborations with make-up brand Estée Lauder and US retailer Target.
3. Launched almost a decade ago, revenues at Victoria Beckham have hovered around £36m for the past two years, although the company said revenues for the first half of 2017 “indicate double-digit growth on the year”. In 2015 — the last year for which accounts have been filed — it posted a pre-tax loss of £4.3m.
4. London-based Neo, also founded in 2008, specialises in investments in the European luxury sector and has stakes in Parisian menswear brand AMI PARIS, eyewear designer ALAIN MIKLI and British homeware brand TOM DIXON. It acquired designer Tom Dixon’s business in 2015 from Swedish investor PROVENTUS, which had owned a majority stake in his company since 2004.
5. A private equity boss at one Mayfair-based firm said Ms Beckham had “built a strong business based on celebrity”, but added: “It’s not something we would invest in but she seems to be making real money. “She’s an impressive lady but the investment is still high risk/high return as it involves dealing with the founder, so it’s reliant on one person. It’s a volatile investment.”
Victoria Beckham's fashion brand nabs £30m from Paul bakery chain backer Neo Investment Partners | Lucy White
City A.M. November 27, 2017
6. It opened its first bricks-and-mortar flagship store on Dover Street in 2014, in collaboration with architect Farshid Moussavi, and launched its first Asian store in Hong Kong in 2016. The brand now retails through 400 stockists in more than 50 countries.
Losses widen at Victoria Beckham fashion empire after expansion | Joanna Bourke, The Evening Standard. December 19, 2017
7. Victoria Beckham is banking on a series of new tie-ups and US expansion to grow her fashion empire which has fallen deeper into the red. Accounts just filed for the luxury designer, which sells £995 clutch bags, show sales slipped 1% to £36.4m in 2016, and losses widened to £8.5m from £4.8m. The Victoria Beckham brand expanded overseas and invested in design and marketing during the year. However, the group was upbeat about future growth in its report which outlined a number of new partnerships. This year it launched a collection with US retailer Target, and it is working on a new range with Reebok.
Last month it received a £30 million investment from private equity firm Neo for a minority stake and it expects to break even by 2020.
8.The parent company, Beckham Brand Holdings, is ultimately owned by music mogul Simon Fuller’s XIX Management, Victoria and her husband David. Beckham Brand Holdings has reported a 2016 profit after tax of £16.19m, down from £32.32m. Revenue was steady at £47.52m.
Small-cap week: manufacturing | Michael Pooler, FT. January 28, 2017.
APPLIED GRAPHENE MATERIALS
DZ profile: Applied Graphene Materials Plc
Business: spinout from the UNIVERSITY OF DURHAM that produces tiny graphene particles called nanoplatelets and disperses them into other products such as polymers and lubricants. AGM hooked its first commercial order last autumn — for the reinforcement of high-end fishing rods.
Location: Redcar, North Yorkshire
Financials: of £252,000 in revenue during the previous financial year, only £75,000 came from sales, with the rest made up by grants. Losses before tax widened to £4.5m in the year to July, though the company had a cash cushion of £7.7m in the bank.
Investment: The £28m-valued company floated in 2013. Shares in the company have fallen by more than a quarter over the past year to trade at 127.5p, beneath an IPO price of 155p and peaked just months later at 510p
1. An area of particular focus is paints and coatings. AGM has developed a form of graphene it says delivers a sixfold improvement in barrier and anti-corrosion properties. JAMES BRIGGS, a maker of aerosol paints based in the north of England, will incorporate some of AGM’s material into formulations to deliver high-performing primers, with product launches expected early this year.
2. That followed a partnership unveiled a year ago with SHERWIN-WILLIAMS, the world’s largest paint supplier, to develop anticorrosive coatings.
Breakthrough for graphene groups remains elusive | Andy Bounds and Chris Tighe, FT. August 24, 2018
3. shares now trade at about 43p. Institutional investors, however, have stayed patient. Supported by two further equity fundraisings, AGM has pursued its strategy of collaborating with manufacturers on graphene applications to add value to products in sectors including paints and coatings, composites, automotive and aerospace. ... this year ....launch by chemicals business JAMES BRIGGS of a range of aerosol paint primers containing AGM graphene. Previous products have been more niche, including fishing rods and the FENYR SuperSport car. AGM is progressing with its Structural Ink patented technology, a method of printing graphene on to composites, and is working with AIRBUS on satellite applications.
4. new chief executive. Adrian Potts took over this month, via internal promotion, succeeding Jon Mabbitt.
5. Pre-tax losses in the six months to January 31 widened to £2.3m (£2.1m in previous half-year). The company had £12m cash.
DZ profile: Versarien Plc
Business: An advanced materials developer collaborating on developments for aerospace components, elite sports products and power storage. Creates graphene nano platelets and inks. Also makes an additive for metals to make them more heat resistant and sintered tungsten carbide, which is used in arduous environments in the oil and gas industry. GEIC partner.
Staff: Neill Ricketts, chief executive
Location: Cheltenham, Gloucestershire
Financials: Group revenue contracted 12 per cent to £4.4m in the year to March, while losses before tax doubled to £1.8m.
Investment: Aim-listed group which floated in June 2013 at 12.25p per share with a market capitalisation of £14.6m.
1. This month it announced the purchase of an 85 per cent stake in CAMBRIDGE GRAPHENE for £170,000. The university spinout supplies inks based on graphene and related materials, as well as technology for licensing to manufacturers.
Versarien finally makes headway with graphene, 14 years after its invention | Mark Shapland, The Evening Standard. February 5, 2018
2. ... in November, shares shot up, thanks to partnership announcements and a successful £2.9m fundraising to aid expansion. The partnership that caused the biggest stir was its tie-up with the Israeli AEROSPACE INDUSTRIES to make carbon-fibre structures for both military and commercial planes.
3. ...susceptible to the success of its own clients, with many exposed to the recent decline in the oil and gas sector. Nevertheless analysts point to the fact that it is the only graphene specialist to have gained independent approval — from its spiritual home, the University of Manchester.
4. Ricketts was invited by the Prime Minister, Theresa May, to join her on last week’s trade delegation to China.
Breakthrough for graphene groups remains elusive | Andy Bounds and Chris Tighe, FT. August 24, 2018
5. Shares ihave risen to 155p on the back of a string of contract wins, giving the company a market capitalisation of £217m.
6. recently signed a collaboration agreement with AXIA MATERIALS of South Korea to develop enhanced composite materials for electric vehicle batteries and “smart” houses with built-in sensors.
7. Revenues increased by 52 per cent to £9m in the year to March 31, while pre-tax losses narrowed from £2.2m to £1.6m.