Music promoter - Holiday parks - Food powder - Retail marketplace - Payments app - Compliance specialists
– Clothes hangers - Architects – Cryptocurrency exchange –
Fashion empire - Freight forwarding
SJM Concerts £163.5m | Forest Holidays £36.5m | Smith & Sinclair £1.2m | Huel £5.8m | Trouva | Flux | Temple Grange Partners | Braiform | Darling Associates £7m | The London Block Exchange (LBX) | Vivienne Westwood £37.5m | Xpediator £76.3m
News about 12 UK growth companies and/or accelerators + turnover in the GRID marketplace 12th – 18th November 2017
SJM CONCERTS: music promoter - Manchester
Music promoter Simon Moran richer to the tune of £29m | Robert Watts, The Sunday Times. November 12 2017,
DZ profile: S.J.M. Limited (SJM Concerts)
Business: music promoter which puts on more than 2,000 concerts a year and was one of the driving forces behind the One Love event after the Manchester Arena terrorist attack. Moran’s business, organises tours for acts such as the Stone Roses, Adele and Arctic Monkeys. He also co-owns V Festival and T in the Park, two of the biggest dates in the British music calendar.
Founders: Simon Moran, 51, and Chris York. Moran began his music promotion career while studying for a business studies degree at Sheffield University in the 1980s. He organised a concert for Liverpool band The Farm, and ended up managing them in the final year of his course. Moran made his breakthrough promoting Take That during the 1990s. He is said to still be a close friend of the band members. Moran’s fortune was put at £135m in this year’s Sunday Times Rich List. He has owned the Warrington Wolves rugby league club since 2003 and led the team out onto the pitch in a Wembley final.
Financials: Last year Moran’s main company, SJM Holdings North, made a profit of £9.6m on turnover of £163.5m. The accounts show a dividend of nearly £28.9m was paid.
Investment: Moran is the sole owner.
FOREST HOLIDAYS: holiday parks - Derbyshire
Bidders line up for £100m Forest Holidays sale | Daniel Dunkley, The Sunday Times. November 12 2017
DZ profile: Forest Holidays Limited
Business: A chain of holiday parks which owns luxury wood cabins and are part- owned by the FORESTRY COMMISSION …began life in Scotland in the 1970s when the Forestry Commission built a number of cabins next to Loch Lubnaig near Stirling. It now operates nearly 600 cabins in nine sites across Britain, including the Forest of Dean and Sherwood Forest. The Forestry Commission earns a fee for every cabin on its woodland — an arrangement expected to continue after the sale.
Location: Swadlincote, Derbyshire
Staff: about 600
Financials: The company’s pre-tax profits rose from £6.7m to £6.9m in the 12 months to March, after revenues climbed from £32.5m to £36.5m.
Investment: the Forestry Commission owns just under a fifth of the shares. LDC, the buyout arm of Lloyds bank, is sitting on a little over half the company after backing a management buy-out five years ago.
News: PHOENIX EQUITY PARTNERS is understood to be leading a pack of bidders for Forest Holidays. Other suitors include buyout firm CALEDONIA INVESTMENTS and CENTER PARCS, the family resort operator. is poised to change hands for more than £100m.
SMITH & SINCLAIR: confectionery maker - London
Start-ups beg for help with growing pains | Peter Evans, The Sunday Times. November 12, 2017
Business: confectionery maker …..soon had a stream of orders for her “edible cocktails” — alcoholic sweets in flavours such as berry daiquiri and whisky sour.
Location: Swiss Cottage, northwest London
Founder: Melanie Goldsmith, 28.
Financials: on track to make £1.2m in revenue this year
The really hard work started as the company began to expand and “the risks became a lot higher”. Smith & Sinclair did not take on external financing for its first 2½ years, but required a cash injection earlier this year. “We’re bringing manufacturing back to Britain,” said Goldsmith, who raised the cash through a £50,000 loan from the peer-to-peer lender MARKETINVOICE. “But there’s no help in the early stages. There are no tax breaks.”
HUEL: food powder - Buckinghamshire
For goodness shakes: my recipe for fast nutrition | Liam Kelly, The Sunday Times. November 12 2017
DZ profile: Huel Limited
Business: sells a food powder that Hearn calls a “complete food”. It combines oats, pea protein, brown rice protein, flax seeds, sunflower oil and coconut fat. Once mixed with water, the vegan shake provides vitamins, minerals and protein. Huel is available only online and is sold in 55 countries. The shake comes in plain or vanilla flavours in its basic form, with a range of nine extra flavours including chocolate and matcha (green) tea. Hearn takes his “just as it is, with a little bit of coffee added”. Rather than target bodybuilders, Hearn’s goal is to be the lunch of choice for office workers.. “We think the sandwich and cereal is our competitor.”
Location: He employs 25 staff in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, as well as three in Berlin and three in Los Angeles.
Founder: Julian Hearn, 45, worked at House of Fraser, Waitrose and the mobile phone seller Dial-a-Phone …in 2008 Hearn set up the voucher site promotional-codes.org.uk, which he sold to a US company in 2011. “I made enough money that I didn’t need to work again. But I’m too young to retire.” In 2015, running a fitness-programme company called Bodyhack, he enlisted the services of James Collier, a former NHS dietician, to develop Huel.
Financials: In the year to January, Huel made a £1.3m pre-tax profit on £5.8m of sales, and Hearn expects this to increase this year.
Investment: He founded Huel with £220,000 from the sale of the site. Although the company has not had any outside investment, Hearn said he is open to selling a stake in the medium term to fuel growth. Hearnowns most of Huel’s shares. Collier and two non-executive directors split the rest.
1. Huel recently launched a chocolate-flavoured protein bar, and there are plans to release a ready-made drinks range to be stocked in cafes, grocers and petrol stations.
2. “The hardest thing was to get someone to produce the product,” Hearn said. “It was much more complicated than we thought to find a reliable manufacturer.” The early difficulties meant that there was a year between developing the formula and the first pack coming off the production line.
TROUVA: retail marketplace - London
Tech startup Trouva, a marketplace for independent shops, raises $10m | Lynsey Barber, City A.M. November 12, 2017
DZ profile: Streethub Ltd (Trouva)
Business: website that provides independent shops with the ability to sell online. Trouva acts as a marketplace for small businesses selling clothing, homeware and lifestyle items and currently has more than 350 sellers.
Founder: chief executive, Mandeep Singh
Investment: BGF VENTURES has led the $10m (£7.6m) series A, with INDEX VENTURES, a previous backer of fashion firms Farfetch, Etsy and Asos, and OCTOPUS INVESTMENTS also participating. Previous investors Robin Klein of LOCALGLOBE, PLAYFAIR CAPITAL and DOWNING VENTURES also backed the firm. Trouva also boasts early backing from angel investors such as Onefinestay co-founder Greg Marsh and Just Eat operating chief Adrian Blair.
FLUX: retail payments app - Reading
Barclays is working with startup Flux to make your receipts digital and paperless | Lynsey Barber, City A.M. November 13, 2017
DZ profile: Flux Systems Limited
Business: UK fintech. Customers will get app alerts in real time with purchase details when they're shopping, with the idea that it can offer users greater control over their spending when they know exactly what their cash is going on. ….connects the information between point of sale software and bank cards to provide more information than that usually found on a bank statement when it comes to transactions. Flux is partnering with digital challenger banks STARLING and MONZO, and BARCLAYS.
Founders: former REVOLUT employees Tom Reay, Matty Cusden-Ross (CEO) and Veronique Barbosa
Investment: Flux was part of the 2017 BARCLAYS ACCELERATOR powered by TECHSTARS. To date, Flux has raised $1,500,000 from London based VCs including PROFOUNDERS, ANTHEMIS, FORCE OVER MASS and other angels.
1. Barclays is working with Flux for making receipts digital, initially in a trial with around 10,000 customers who are among its early product testers but with plans to put it in the hands of its 5m mobile users. The trial will also see lunch spot EAT given the ability to issue digital receipts via Barclays Merchant Services. ....understood to be one of the first times Barclays has adopted technology in practice from a startup that has been part of its fintech accelerator.
2. The UK's biggest high street banks will soon have to start making customer information available (with an individual's permission) to third parties who will start using the data to build new products and services. The Open Banking rules, ordered by the market regulator to increase competition, will come into force from the start of 2018.
KFC taps London fintech startup Flux for paperless payments | Emily Nicolle, City A.M. 4 March 2019
3. KFC has launched a partnership with London fintech startup Flux which will see the US fried chicken chain go paperless. From today, users of digital banks Monzo and Starling, as well as select Barclays customers in the near future, will be able to receive digital itemised receipts for transactions in their banking apps when they shop at KFC. Flux said it will also be powering a KFC rewards scheme, where users will automatically collect KFC points and rewards when they pay with their bank card
4. The startup holds similar tie-ups with food retailers such as EAT, COSTA COFFEE and ITSU.
TEMPLE GRANGE PARTNERS: compliance specialists – London, NY & HK
Temple Grange sees booming demand from financial institutions for specialists | Philip Stafford, FT. November 13, 2017
DZ profile: Temple Grange Partners Limited
Business: start-up consultancy that finds compliance specialists for financial markets. Vets and hires specialists in critical compliance functions for financial institutions, covering areas such as anti-money laundering, trade surveillance and cyber security, as well as preparation for large events like Brexit and the implementation of new legislation. Mr O’Shea said the idea grew out of his frustration at not finding the regulatory and compliance specialists he needed when at Credit Suisse. He is seeking to build for compliance professionals the same sort of outsourced service model that has emerged for IT contractors in the last 15 years.
Location: London, New York and Hong Kong.
Founder: Eoin O’Shea, the former global chief central compliance officer at Credit Suisse
Staff: more than 50
1. Mr Spencer, one of the City’s best-known entrepreneurs, is the main backer of a private fundraising by Temple Grange, which has raised “single-digit” millions according to someone familiar with the deal. Michael Spencer is using part of the £200m he pocketed from the sale of shares in interdealer broker TP ICAP to invest. Mr Spencer’s windfall came from the sale of most of his 9 per cent stake in TP ICAP just days after the company bought ICAP’s global broking business in January in a £1.3bn deal. He will be investing with his own money rather than that of his investment vehicle, IPGL.
2. Businesses’ spending on compliance demands has mushroomed since the financial crisis, while the industry is struggling to maintain profits amid low market volatility and historically low global interest rates.
3. Besides building up ICAP from a punchy 1980s start-up in a nascent global derivatives market to a £3bn company, Mr Spencer has regularly invested in other ventures, including BI, a fine wine merchant, and PROBABILITY, a mobile gaming software company. He netted more than $80m in 2014 from the sale of CITY INDEX, a spread betting company, to US group GAIN CAPITAL.
4. The remainder of ICAP — a collection of electronic trading, post-trade and venture capital assets — has been rebranded Nex Group, leaving Mr Spencer to focus on building digital trading networks for the over-the-counter markets.
BRAIFORM: clothes hangers - London
H&M’s coathanger supplier Braiform shops for $20m of new funding | Lucy White, City A.M. November 14, 2017.
DZ profile: Braiform (UK) Limited
Business: The world's second-largest clothes hanger company. Braiform both reuses and recycles its coathangers. Braiform supplies high street giants including ASDA, H&M, MOTHERCARE and MATALAN, and believes its focus on recycling and reuse sets it in good stead for expansion. But it isn’t solely relying on supplying physical stores, having recently developed a line of labels and tags.
Investment: owned by co-chief executives Graeme Rutherford and Ben Hunt, who both began their careers in Braiform almost 20 years ago as a sales rep and customer service rep respectively. Are keen to retain control of the business as new funds are raised, having taken the reins in a management buyout four years ago when Braiform separated from SPOTLESS GROUP.
1. has revealed it is aiming to raise $20m (£15m) from private equity and growth investors. The business wants to deepen its environmentally friendly focus, develop its technology and build on its physical assets.
2. “The growth of online retail doesn’t worry us, but it is on our radar,” said Rutherford. “We’re looking into different products and services around that dot-com space. We already do business with Amazon in India, for example, supplying their delivery bags.”
3. Hunt added: "There are several acquisition opportunities in related businesses that are available, and even without that we see a huge opportunity for organic growth."
4. In accounts made up to 30 June 2016 at Companies House, BRAIFORM (UK) LIMITED: “The company is a wholly owned subsidiary of PHOENIX TWO INVESTMENTS LIMITED (HK). The company’s principle activity is that of a holding company of other intermediary holding companies. ….The company did not trade in 2015 or 2016. …Braiform Holdings Limited, a company incorporated in the Cayman Islands, has confirmed that it will continue to support the company’s obligations…for at least the next 12 months…”
DARLING ASSOCIATES: Architects – London & Poland
Belief in people has led architecture firm Darling Associates to success | City A.M. Sophie Jarvis, research associate at The Entrepreneurs Network. November 15, 2017
DZ profile: Darling Associates Limited
Business: Architects built an office in both London and Poland, working on projects in the UK, Russia and Australia. Leap 100 company.
Founder: Chris Darling
Financials: Their turnover is on track to reach £7m this financial year with an upturn in profit margin expected to be around 25 per cent pre-tax.
1. They’ve had a bit of a rollercoaster: growing to 70 employees by the time of the 2008 recession, then shrinking post-2008. Now they’re approaching 80 people.
2. Darling stresses the “rigorous recruitment procedures” comprising of “six-month probation periods, where we filtered out people who weren’t really right for us”. Interestingly, for a male dominated industry, they’ve naturally achieved almost a 50/50 male to female ratio.
3. 17 employees now hold shares in the company.
THE LONDON BLOCK EXCHANGE (LBX): cryptocurrency exchange – London
A London startup is launching a debit card that lets you spend bitcoin and Ethereum | The Evening Standard. November 15, 2017. Oscar Williams-Grut. Original article on Business Insider UK.
DZ profile: London Block Exchange Ltd
Business: A London-startup is launching a new debit card that it claims will allow people to spend cryptocurrencies across the UK. It plans to launch a sterling-to-cryptocurrency exchange and a Visa debit card, dubbed "Dragoncard," that will allow people to spend bitcoin, ethereum, ripple, litecoin and monero across the UK. The startup plans to add more cryptocurrencies in future.The Visa card, which will be issued by Gibraltar-based pre-paid card provider Wavecrest, will be linked to an app that allows users to buy and hold cryptocurrencies through the LBX exchange. Customers will also be able to withdraw money using the card. Cryptocurrencies will be converted to sterling at the time of withdrawal. Customers will be charged a 0.5% for buying and selling cryptocurrencies on its platform and the Dragoncard has an up-front fee of £20. LBX says card provider Wavecrest will also charge a small fee for ATM withdrawals.
Launched: 2017 - launched on Tuesday
Founder: CEO Ben Dives. Prior to setting up LBX earlier this year, Dives founded brainstorming tool IDEAFLIP.
Staff: Ex-Credit Suisse and UBS banker Adam Bryant serves as LBX's executive chairman. Bryant spent 18 years at Credit Suisse and almost two years at UBS before joining LBX, running the macro hedge fund teams at both banks.
Investment: LBX has so far raised £2 million from a consortium of private investors who the company declined to name.
1. LBX said in a statement: "Despite being the financial capital of the world, London is a difficult place for investors to enter and trade in the cryptocurrency market. "We’ll bring it into the mainstream by removing the barriers to access, and by helping people understand and have confidence in what we believe is the future of money." Bryant said in a statement: " We’re confident we’ll transform this market in the UK and will become the leading cryptocurrency and blockchain consultancy for institutional investors and consumers alike."
2. LBX's launch coincides with an explosion of interest in cryptocurrency in 2017. Bitcoin has rocketed over 500% so far this year and the total cryptocurrency market has ballooned to close to $200 billion thanks to the popularity of "initial coin offerings," where startups issue digital coins as a way of raising money.
3. While LBX is one of the first companies to offer a cryptocurrency card in the UK, it is likely to soon face competition. REVOLUT, the well-funded foreign exchange startup, is developing cryptocurrency trading capacities within its app and may well let consumers spend the currencies on its prepaid card.
VIVIENNE WESTWOOD: fashion empire - London
Vivienne Westwood fashion empire hit by Brexit vote | Joanna Bourke, The Evening Standard. November 16
DZ profile: Vivienne Westwood Limited
Business: eponymous brand, clothing empire and fashion designer. The label helped set the style of the 1970s punk era and is behind a number of popular tartan jackets. Fans include Prime Minister Theresa May.
Founder: Dame Vivienne Westwood
Financials: pre-tax profits fell to £1.9m last year, from £2.3m in 2015. Boosted turnover by 11% to £37.5m.
1. freshly filed accounts, said: “Cost of sales increased by 19.89% due in part to a weak GBP following Brexit.” A number of retailers have warned of higher import costs for materials. The firm has been “focussing on alleviating this pressure by reviewing pricing”.
2. Despite 2016 being a “challenging” year, Vivienne Westwood …wants to expand further in China and the US.
Small-cap focus: logistics companies move on up | Michael Pooler, FT. November 18, 2017.
Logistics companies are vital to the modern economy, storing, shipping and delivering goods within countries and across borders. Although the biggest multinational businesses in the sector are based outside the UK, there is a pool of smaller listed companies on the London Stock Exchange. Alongside traditional activities in the UK such as trucking and warehouses, they offer exposure to a wide range of markets from tax documentation services for online vendors, to running tugboats in Brazil.
XPEDIATOR: freight forwarding - Essex
DZ profile: Xpediator Plc
Business: Its business is freight forwarding - arranging the shipment of goods by buying and selling transportation capacity via road, rail, air or sea. Large companies in this sector include Germany’s DHL and KUEHNE + NAGEL of Switzerland. Xpediator’s main operations are based in the UK and central and eastern Europe and its services include warehousing, fulfilment of ecommerce orders and express delivery of small shipments of freight on pallets. It targets niche markets, such as fashion logistics, and also provides inclusive fuel and toll cards, as well as financial and support services for hauliers in southern Europe.
Location: Braintree, Essex
Financials: operating profit rose more than 25 per cent between 2014 and 2016 to £3.5m before exceptional items. Its revenue last year was £76.3m.
Investment: joined London’s junior market in August, raising £5m through an IPO
1. Xpediator has an “asset-light” business model, which means it does not own assets such as trucks and ships. Management says this should allow “significant growth” without any material increase to its fixed costs.
2. A key strategy is to build the company through acquisitions. This month it spent £1.2m on REGIONAL EXPRESS, a business that ensures sellers using Amazon are compliant with VAT registration, among other services.