COMPANIES: Connexin to Milk VFX

Published by Directorzone Markets Ltd on October 23, 2017, 9:00 am in News, Other


Thursday February 14th 2019


Thursday February 14th 2019



Genetics database - LGV driver training - Social housing – Boutique Gym – Thai restaurants

Smart infrastructure provider - Social housing software – Online wealth management

Visual Effects - Courier Group


Genomics | Cleveland LGV £3m | Keepmoat Homes | Frame £5m | Busaba Eathai | Connexin | Mobysoft | Moneyfarm | Milk VFX £10.3m | DX Group Plc £291.9m


News about 10 UK growth companies and/or accelerators + turnover in the GRID marketplace 15th – 21st October 2017:


GENOMICS: genetic database company - Oxford

American drugs giant Biogen ties up with Oxford spin-out Genomics | Sabah Meddings, The Sunday Times. October 15

DZ profile: Genomics Plc

Business: university spin-out which has developed a database of human genetic information, providing a source for drugs companies to use in their research. If a scientist wants to know what might happen when a particular patient is given a gene therapy drug, they can search the database for people with a similar genetic profile. By analysing the different DNA sequences, potential treatments can be identified and the drug trial process streamlined.

Launched: 2014

Location: Oxford

Founder: Prof. Peter Donnelly, CEO; Prof. Gil Mcvean, Director; Dr. Chris Spencer; Dr. Gerton Lunter

Investment: spun out of Oxford University in 2014 and secured £10.3m of backing from investors including IP Group, the intellectual property company. Backed by fund manager Neil Woodford

News:  Has secured a multimillion-pound deal with the listed, £53bn US drugs giant BIOGEN to search for new treatments for multiple sclerosis. The aim is to cut the failure rate of clinical trials — currently about 90%.



CLEVELAND LGV: lorry driver training - Teeside

How the closure of Redcar steelworks forged 300 new businesses | Peter Evans, The Sunday Times. October 15

DZ profile: Cleveland Lgv Training Limited

Business: provides training for lorry drivers

Launched: 2015,

Location: Redcar, Teesside

Founder: Dan Wilcox, 55, weeks after his employer, the SSI (Sahaviriya Steel Industries) steelworks - one of Britain’s last remaining blast furnaces - called in administrators. One of 2,066 workers who lost their jobs, he used his savings and a £10,000 grant from the support fund.

Staff: employs 35 people, 14 of whom came out of the SSI plant

Financials: turned over nearly £3m in the past year



KEEPMOAT HOMES: social housing business - Doncaster

Builder mulls float | Daniel Dunkley, Sunday Times. October 15.

DZ profile: Keepmoat Limited

Business: specialises in affordable and social housing, and sells 70% of its homes to first-time buyers.

Launched: 1986

Location: Doncaster

Financials: made an underlying profit of £36m on continuing operations last year.

Investment: private equity firms TDR and SUN CAPITAL bought the company for an undisclosed sum three years ago and sold its regeneration arm to the French energy giant Engie in March for £330m.

News: are weighing a listing next year, buoyed by the success of rival Countryside on the London market, sources said. It could be valued at £350m, based on the market worth of industry peers.



FRAME: Boutique Gym - London

Let’s get financial - boutique gym Frame raises £6m for expansion | Peter Evans The Sunday Times. October 15

DZ profile: Black Murphy Limited (Frame)

Business: chain of boutique gyms with pay-as-you-go model. Opened the first branch under a railway arch in Shoreditch, east London, in March 2009. Classes cost between £10 and £22. Thousands of customers book more than 50,000 Pilates, yoga and dance classes every month.

Launched: 2009

Location: East London

Founder: Pip Black, 34, runs the day-to-day operations and marketing; Joan Murphy, 36, handles property and finance

Staff: employs 26 staff at its headquarters plus 149 personal trainers in its four gyms

Financials: Sales this year are expected to be about £ a £100,000 loan in August 2007. 

Investment: has raised £6m from the private equity firm PIPER, whose other investments include the cocktail chain BE AT ONE, TURTLE BAY restaurants and PROPER CORN popcorn.


1. Will use the investment cash to expand across London and then the UK.

2. The British health and fitness industry, which is worth more than £4bn, has seen a spate of recent investments. Earlier this month, 1Rebel — another London gym chain — raised £6.6m in a funding round led by CODEX CAPITAL Partners.

We stretch customers — not their finances | Liam Kelly ,The Sunday Times. August 26 2018
3. Three Frames have opened in London so far this year. Staff: 85. Made a pre-tax profit of £51,000 on sales of £3.9m last year.



BUSABA EATHAI: Thai restaurants - London

Fund bites into restaurant | Sunday Times. October 15.

DZ profile: Busaba Eathai Limited

Business: Thai restaurant business, 14-strong chain

Launched: 2003

Location: London

Investment: New York debt fund MUZINICH has taken a slice of the company from Busaba’s private equity owner, PHOENIX EQUITY PARTNERS in a financial restructuring, amid growing pain in the dining sector.


1.  Jason Myers stepped down as chief executive of the this month.

2. has been forced to shut several sites this year due to falling profits and sterling-related price inflation.



CONNEXIN: Smart infrastructure provider - Hull

Hull’S £10m investment | Sunday Times. October 15.

DZ profile: Connexin Limited

Business: internet firm Smart infrastructure provider that designs, builds and manages Smart Cities infrastructure. Supports IoT and Smart technologies for cities across the UK.

Launched: 2006

Location: Hull

Investment: £10m investment led by US fund DIGITAL ALPHA

News: Investment will pay for a new tech campus, back up to £100m in smart city projects and is creating 100 new jobs in the city.



MOBYSOFT: social housing software - Manchester

No more late rent: Livingbridge invests in Mobysoft | Lucy White, City A.M. October 16.

DZ profile: Mobysoft Limited

Business: Predictive software business Mobysoft, which aims to help social housing landlords predict which tenants will be late to pay rent, and serves 91 UK social housing operators managing around one million properties. Mobysoft's RentSense service collects data and uses algorithms to predict which tenants in a social housing development will be late to pay rent, then prioritises this list and reminds the landlord to prompt them before they fall into arrears.

Launched: 2002

Location: Manchester

Investment: investment from private equity firm LIVINGBRIDGE - from its £220m Enterprise 2 fund, which generally writes cheques of £5m to £15m for high-growth smaller companies in the UK.

News: Of the UK's 1,650 social housing providers, the largest 100 faced more than £700m of gross arrears in 2016. Rent reductions and welfare reform, including the introduction of the Universal Credit benefits system, are adding to cost pressures and driving the need for greater efficiency. According to Mobysoft, it costs landlords 500 per cent more to manage Universal Credit cases than under legacy systems such as housing benefit. It adds that 89 per cent of tenants on Universal Credit are in arrears.



MONEYFARM: online wealth management - London

Moneyfarm is changing the face of wealth management | Elliott Haworth, City A.M. October 16.

DZ profile: Mfm Investment Ltd (Moneyfarm)

Business: app-based digital wealth management platform, which expanded into the UK from Italy last year. Since moving to London, the business has doubled its user base, now managing £260m in assets across the UK and Italy. What Moneyfarm offers is both ease and security. You pick the amount of risk you want to be exposed to, like a traditional wealth management service. The firm offers a portfolio of passive ETFs that are actively managed by its in-house investment managers. Dapra says they picked ETFs over stocks, shares, bonds or anything else because they “allow variable diversification, great liquidity and transparency.”

Launched: 2011

Location: London N1

Founders: Giovanni Dapra, chief executive and Paolo Galvani


1. The firm has recently integrated Earnest, an AI chatbot, into its service.

2. As well as a partnership with ALLIANZ GLOBAL INVESTORS, and launching separate partnerships with UBER and REVOLUT, Moneyfarm is in the process of launching a pension product. Dapra says it is a “critical opportunity” and that “ultimately, pensions will be most important social problem in the next 10-20 years for people in the UK.” Fewer people are saving into a private pension plan than at any point for the past 60 years. Auto-enrolment has gone some of the way to curing this ill, yet still there is a reluctance to think ahead. “We want to make it as simple as possible, so our customers don’t really have to think about it.”



MILK VFX: Visual Effects - London

Entrepreneurs: London’s visual effects wizards finding new dimensions | Alex Lawson, The Evening Standard. October16

DZ profile: Milk Visual Effects Limited (Milk-VFX)

Business: Oscar-winning visual effects production company firm. Has worked on a string of movie hits, including Fantastic Beasts, Narnia and High Rise, as practitioners of what it calls the “dark art” of VFX. Current projects include the Dr Who Christmas special and Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman’s Good Omens, while its work on Philip K Dick’s Electric Dreams is on Channel 4. Expect plenty more electric dreams ahead.

Launched: 2013

Location: Fitzrovia

Founder: Nicolas Hernandez, Murray Barber, Jean-Claude Deguara, Sara Bennett and chief executive Will Cohen, who’d worked at London effects institutions Framestore and Mill. They’d had itchy feet, keen to work for themselves, when a dearth of hits and the downtrodden global economy put a squeeze on the film industry.

Staff: 100. 

Financials: £10.3m (2016)

Investment: In the summer, Milk took a £2 million investment from the BRITISH GROWTH FUND, which owns 20%,

News:  its directors look to expand into high-end streamed shows — as Netflix and Amazon grow — and new tech. A recent exhibition in Birmingham (which will head to Manchester and London) saw Milk create a virtual dinosaur safari on the plains of Montana. 



DX GROUP PLC: Courier Group - Slough

DX pins turnround hopes on new management team | Michael Pooler and Nicholas Megaw, FT. October 20

DZ profile: Dx (group) Plc

Business: British courier group established during the Royal Mail strikes of the 1970s, DX specialises in next-day delivery for mail, parcels and heavier items requiring two people.

Launched: 2013

Location: Slough

Financials: Revenues inched up 1.4 per cent to £291.9m in the year ending June 30, though this was driven by acquisitions, which offset declines in DX’s existing activities. However, pressure on prices, a shortage of qualified drivers and difficulties at one of the company’s sites pushed down margins, meaning it generated nil adjusted profit before tax. One-off items, including a £72.4m writedown, led to a statutory pre-tax loss of £82.3m.

Investment: Aim-listed. Market capitalisation £23.1m. The stock has lost almost 90 per cent of its value since DX’s initial public offering in 2014


1. Throughout 2017 the company has had to endure public dissent from an activist investor, legal action by drivers over their employment status and a profit warning that led to the collapse of a proposed merger with the distribution business of rival John Menzies. The company’s troubles are, in part, down to declining activity at its secure document handling service, because of the effect of digital substitution. Yet they also reflect the fierce competition in the expanding UK parcels market.

2.  Announced the appointment of logistics industry veterans Ron Series as chairman and Lloyd Dunn as chief executive, and unveiled a £24m fundraising it called “critical” for its short-term cash position. Liad Meidar, Chief investment officer at GATEMORE CAPITAL, DX’s largest shareholder that opposed the proposed tie-up with Menzies Distribution and pushed for changes to its board, noted that losses were concentrated in the company’s freight division: “Ron Series and Lloyd Dunn turned around DX Freight’s main competitor, Tuffnells, and brought it from lossmaking to over 9 per cent operating margins. We do not see any reason why this cannot be achieved again over time.”