COMPANIES:  ATG to Brainlabs

Published by Directorzone Markets Ltd on December 4, 2017, 9:00 am in News, Other



Supermarkets - Education data - Casual dining – Adtech

- Consumer lending - Legal AI - Bollards –

Defence - Accounting


Booths £276.6m | Hotcourses £11.1m | Patisserie Valerie £114.2m | Brainlabs | Lendable | Luminance | ATG Access £12.5m | Accuracy International £13.2m


Off-GRID: BDO £428m


News about 9 UK growth companies and/or accelerators + turnover in the GRID marketplace 26th November – 2nd December 2017


BOOTHS: Supermarkets - Lancashire

Booths up for sale after 170 years | Sabah Meddings, The Sunday Times. November 26, 2017

DZ profile: E.H.Booth & Co., Limited (Booths)

Business: chain of high-end supermarkets in Northern England. Nicknamed the “Waitrose of the North” in the grocery trade, Booths has 28 shops in prime locations across Lancashire, Cumbria, Yorkshire, Cheshire and Greater Manchester.

Launched: 1847

Location: Preston, Lancashire

Founder: tea dealer Edwin Henry Booth, with the opening of the China House in Blackpool

Staff: more than 2,800 people. Edwin Booth, 62, chairman and chief executive

Financials: … spell of turbulent trading that saw it fall to a loss of £6.3m last year Last year’s loss compared with a £1.1m profit a year earlier. Nonetheless, there had been fears that Booths would breach loan terms. Sales slipped by 0.7pc to £276.6m during the year to the end of March 2016.

Investment: The family, which is divided into different factions, owns about 96% of the company with the rest owned by staff.

News: Booths has hired advisers from NM Rothschild to solicit takeover bids. Retail industry sources estimate the chain will fetch between £130m and £150m, although the family is said to be holding out for a substantially higher price. The family has resisted rumoured approaches from rivals in the past, including SAFEWAY and WAITROSE. However, the sales process is expected to prompt all Britain’s big grocers to run a slide rule over the business. …and possibly AMAZON, after buying Whole Foods in the US. NB Booths’ website: “Back in October Booths announced it’s agreement with Amazon Fresh.”



HOTCOURSES: Education data - London

Japanese spark success of degree guides | Peter Evans, The Sunday Times. November 26, 2017.

DZ profile: Hotcourses Ltd

Business: started with a printed directory of degree courses, and now operates websites including The Complete University Guide and Postgraduate Search. Hotcourses began to move online at the turn of the century and no longer prints any of its student guides.

Launched: 1996

Location: has offices in Fulham, southwest London, Delhi, Chennai, Boston and Sydney.

Founders: Mike Elms and his business partner — the future health secretary Jeremy Hunt, both 51. The MP stood down as a director of Hotcourses in 2009, although he retained his stake. Elms has moved from chief executive to chairman. The co-founders reportedly made more than £14m each from the sale. Hunt, thought to be the richest member of the cabinet, has said he will use the money to campaign for causes he believes in once he leaves politics.

Staff: more than 300

Financials: last year reported a pre-tax profit of £2.6m on £11.1m turnover

Investment: Last year, Australia’s IDP Education bought Hotcourses in a £30m deal.

News:  In 2005, the business started collating student reviews of their courses. At the time, the concept was controversial and Hotcourses’ biggest customer threatened to sue if it received negative comments. Today, it is the norm for students to publicly voice their opinions — a change that Elms takes credit for. “The idea that students are now the customers — we’ve been at the vanguard of that shift.”



PATISSERIE VALERIE: casual dining – Birmingham.

Patisserie Valerie curbs plans for London shops as sales surge | Laura Onita, The Evening Standard. November 27, 2017.

DZ profile: Patisserie Holdings Plc

Business: “a leading UK branded café and casual dining group offering cakes, pastries, snacks, meals and hot and cold drinks from over 180 stores and Flour Power City Bakery in the UK. It currently operates under five differentiated brands – Patisserie Valerie, Druckers – Vienna Patisserie, Philpotts, Baker & Spice and Flour Power City. The Company operates a vertically integrated business model, with all products made in-house at seven bakeries and delivered fresh daily. Products are sold primarily through stores and also a growing online channel.”

Launched: 1926

Location: Birmingham

Founder: The first Patisserie Valerie café was opened on Frith Street in London’s Soho district in  by Belgian-born Madame Valerie

Staff: Executive Chairman Luke Johnson, veteran entrepreneur; Paul May, CEO

Financials: Sales climbed 10% to £114.2m in the year to September 30, and pre-tax profits grew 17% to £20m. Shares were up nearly 6% to 331p. Earnings were boosted this year by a tie-up with SAINSBURY’S, which allows Patisserie Valerie to sell the grocer’s cakes through counters at 28 of the grocer’s stores.

Investment: RISK CAPITAL PARTNERS, the London-based private equity firm, co-founded in 2001 by Luke Johnson and Ben Redmond, backed the acquisition of Patisserie Valerie in 2006.


1. plans to add a further 16 stores to its existing 199 next year and is likely to concentrate on expansion outside the M25.


Patisserie Valerie rescued from administration | Jonathan Eley, FT. February 14, 2019

2. ..went into administration in January following an investigation into alleged long-term accounting fraud

3. ...its management team - including Steve Francis,  brought in as chief executive in November after the alleged fraud was discovered - and Irish private equity fund CAUSEWAY CAPITAL has agreed to acquire the café chain, saving about 2,000 jobs. The buyers intend to keep open 96 stores across the UK, depending on negotiations with landlords. Causeway Capital has previously invested in five businesses across Ireland and the UK — including bakery and coffee retailer BAKERS + BARISTAS. Mr Francis said he and two other managers would own “more than the usual 10 per cent"

4. AF BLAKEMORE & SON, a food and distribution company, has acquired all 21 stores of PHILPOTTS, a chain that was part of the Patisserie Valerie group.

5. a decision on BAKER & SPICE, another brand in the group, is pending further discussions

6. Luke Johnson, who owned about 37 per cent of the company’s shares before they were suspended - will not be involved in the new company 




BRAINLABS: Adtech - London

The Brain behind Brainlabs: Dan Gilbert talks robots, advertising, and the merits of being positive | Elliott Haworth, City A.M. November 27, 2017

DZ profile:  Brain Labs Digital Ltd (Brainlabs)

Business: market leading adtech firm. The firm specialises in Pay Per Click advertising – both providing proprietary technology to customers, and running ad campaigns as an agency. Brainlabs is the fastest growing business in the UK, and the fourth fastest in Europe. The firm moved to its new home in Old Street in June due to rapid expansion

The firm is already in the States, with plans to expand into Europe in the making.

Launched: 2012

Location: Old Street, London

Founder: chief executive Dan Gilbert -  Oxford-educated, Twitter famous ex-comedian

Staff: From one to 170 people in five years

News: Sophie Newton, the firm’s chief operating officer, implemented a “Gender Pay Gap Tax” to level the playing field.



LENDABLE: Consumer lending - London

UK consumer lending start-up raises £300m to make new loans | Kadhim Shubber, FT. November 27, 2017

DZ profile: Lendable Ltd

Business: British start-up that lends to consumers with loans of up to £20,000 at interest rates between 4.7 to 40 per cent.

Launched: 2013

Location: London E1

Founders: Martin Kissinger, chief executive

Investment: backed by private investors in PASSION CAPITAL, a government-backed venture capital firm that cannot invest directly in financial services as a condition of its state funding.


1. has raised £300m for new loans from CASTLE TRUST, a specialty lender backed by US private equity firm JC FLOWERS, to purchase the start-up’s loans over three years is the latest institutional investment in a sector previously dominated by retail investors. … the second deal struck this year … In March, Lendable agreed a £100m deal with New York-based WATERFALL ASSET MANAGEMENT.

2. ZOPA, the UK’s oldest “peer-to-peer” lender, has been lending to riskier consumers in recent years but returns have stayed flat — a sign of the competitiveness in the market.  However, investor demand has remained strong. In September, a securitisation of £200m of Zopa’s loans was sold at a significantly better price than its first deal last year. Anthony Parry from the rating agency Moody’s …said that investors were becoming more comfortable with fintech-originated loans.

3. … growing trend of institutional involvement in UK marketplace lending, mirroring developments in the US. In August, FUNDING CIRCLE, the UK’s leading peer-to-peer lender to small businesses, announced a four-year deal to purchase its loans with Dutch insurer Aegon that was worth £160m in the first year alone. According to AltFi Data, institutional investors now account for between 50-60 per cent of loan volume in UK marketplace lending, up from just 5-10 per cent at the start of 2015.



LUMINANCE: Legal AI - Cambridge

Luminance, a London startup using AI to help lawyers, just raised $10m | Lynsey Barber, City A.M. November 29, 2017

DZ profile: Luminance Ltd

Business: artificial intelligence to help lawyers do their job better – its AI platform can crunch documents without humans. The Luminance platform helps those in the legal world analyse contracts such as M&A deal documents.

Launched: 2017

Location: Cambridge

Investment: has raised $10m (£7.5m) from investors that include Mike Lynch's INVOKE CAPITAL and law firm SLAUGHTER AND MAY, led by TALIS CAPITAL. The fresh cash values the London startup at $50m

News: expanding to the US, where it is establishing a headquarters in Chicago.



Guns, drones and surveillance: the firms who make money by keeping London safe | Jim Armitage, The Evening Standard. November 29, 2017.


ATG ACCESS: Bollards - Liverpool

DZ profile: ATG Access Ltd

Business: Makers of Westminster security bollards: the slim, black-painted bollards often featuring the Westminster crest or that of other boroughs, depending on the geography. … made from manganese steel. ATG also makes the cylindrical telescopic bollards that rise or retract from the road to block or open access.

Launched: 1991

Location: Liverpool

Staff: Glenn Cooper, CEO. Gavin Hepburn, sales and marketing director.

Financials: Sales have grown from £12.5m  in 2015-16 to an expected £20m this year. Last year, the company made £1m profit and paid a £2m dividend, with a growing order book overseas.

Investment: backed by private equity firm LDC


Hill & Smith Holdings PLC Acquires ATG Access | February 25, 2019
1. "Hill & Smith Holdings PLC, the international group with leading positions in the supply of infrastructure products and galvanizing services to global markets, announced on Friday that it has completed the acquisition of ATG Access Limited, from LDC and private shareholders, for a cash consideration of £22.5m, on a debt and cash free basis. 
2. the unaudited twelve months to 31 October 2018, ATG recorded turnover of £21.1m, adjusted EBITDA of £2.5m, and had net operating assets, on a debt and cash free basis of £0.6m."




DZ profile: Accuracy International Limited

Business: makes the most accurate snipers’ rifles in the world. When Malcolm Cooper shot a world record, word got out fast, and the Special Boat Service, then the SAS, placed big orders, followed by the Ministry of Defence.

Launched: 2005

Location: Crawley, Surrey

Founders: Founded by three national champ target shooters in a garage: England shooter and toolmaker Dave Walls, Scotland rival Dave Caig; Malcolm Cooper – later a gold medallist at the Los Angeles and Seoul Olympics.

Staff: 80 skilled staff in the UK. Chief executive, Ian Irwin

Financials: profits jumped this year to £494,000 from £364,000 a year earlier on revenue up £1m to £13.2m, with UK sales were  flat at £2.3 m. Sales are growing  ...with military exports growing around the world and especially strongly in the EU.

Investment: went into administration in 2015, struggling with excess debt levels after its purchase by 3i, but has been rebuilt since.



BDO: accounting firm - London

BDO ‘pleasantly surprised’ by business since Brexit vote | Madison Marriage, FT. November 30, 2017

DZ profile:  BDO LLP

Business: the world’s sixth-largest accounting firm

Location: London

Staff: Paul Eagland, BDO managing partner, who was elected to lead BDO’s UK business a year ago

Financials: posted an 11 per cent rise in UK profits in the latest financial year to £88m, boosting pay per partner by more than a fifth to £454,000. Revenues in BDO’s tax division rose 7 per cent to £135m, while revenues from its audit practice, which remains the largest part of the business, grew 5 per cent to £151m.  This helped boost underlying revenues by 6 per cent to £428m in the 12 months to the end of June.


1. BDO initially cut its spending budget for 2017 in anticipation of a slowdown, but reversed that decision when clients decided to push ahead with plans, according to Mr Eagland. This enabled BDO to hire 953 staff in the latest financial year, up from its yearly average of about 700.

2. … an area of focus in the coming months would be attempting to win audit and non-audit contracts from FTSE 350 companies.