ACORN CARE AND EDUCATION
Acorn is one of the premier providers of education and care for vulnerable children and young people in the UK. Phoenix invested in the company in March 2005, alongside Chairman Kevin McNeany. During the investment period, Acorn developed one of the UK’s leading independent fostering networks. Through a focus on high quality education and care, strong organic growth was achieved and 14 acquisitions were completed. In 2010, the business was sold to Teachers’ Private Capital.
CloserStill is a leading international business-to-business exhibition organiser. It focuses on the healthcare and IT sectors and uses a highly disruptive business model. We invested in the company in May 2012. During the investment period, Phoenix and the management team developed an ambitious strategic plan to grow rapidly through new launches, acquisitions and international expansion. Staff numbers doubled, revenues tripled and profits quadrupled. CloserStill was sold in March 2015.
Edif is a leading worldwide provider of a diverse range of testing and inspection services for large industrial assets. Edif reduces risk, optimises performance and enhances the capability of its clients’ assets. Partnering with CEO Rob Dilworth, Phoenix invested in Edif in 2011. Two platform acquisitions were successfully executed that year and ten more acquisitions were subsequently completed, enhancing Edif’s range of services and its geographical reach. Following the development of a global network across 45 countries and 28 offices, Edif was sold to RINA S.p.A in 2016.
Founded by David and Jacqueline Johnson, Just Childcare operates a group of day nurseries providing outstanding care to children up to five years old in high quality, well invested settings. Phoenix invested in 2014, having backed CEO David Johnson when he ran Acorn Care and Education (a Phoenix 2001 Fund investment), and committed significant further capital to support a buy and build across the highly fragmented children's day nurseries market.
Founded by CEO Colin Taylor, Key Retirement Group (KRG) is a leading independent provider of specialist financial products for retirees. Through its More2Life subsidiary, KRG directly originates lifetime mortgages (LTMs) on behalf of third party funders. Phoenix invested in KRG in 2013. There has been a focus on expanding the More2Life funding base and increasing the lifetime value of customers. Significant organic growth has been achieved, and the senior management team has also been strengthened further.
NFT is the UK market leader in chilled food logistics, ensuring time-critical products from over 350 manufacturers reach retailers’ shelves throughout the country. Phoenix backed David Frankish, NFT’s Chief Executive, in a complex carve out from Northern Foods plc in 2006. During the investment period, new technologies drove greater operational efficiency and investment in physical infrastructure ensured capacity to support organic growth. In 2014, with profit having doubled since the MBO, the business was sold to EmergeVest.
Palletways is Europe’s largest and fastest growing network for palletised express freight. Phoenix spent a year working alongside James Wilson (former CEO of TNT) to identify an attractive investment opportunity in the specialist logistic sector, before investing in Palletways. During the period, Palletways was transformed from a UK business into the only pan-European palletised freight network. Additional capital supported international expansion, and network economics were re-engineered. In 2016, Palletways was sold to Imperial Holdings.
Partnership Assurance was the market-leading provider of annuities for people with serious medical conditions and those entering, or planning for, residential care. During Phoenix’s investment period, the team was strengthened with the recruitment of both senior executives and non-executives to the board. Acquisitions were made and new products were launched. Revenues increased by over 3.5x and New Business Profit grew from a break-even position in 2005 to a forecast £20 million in the year of sale. In August 2008, the business was sold to Cinven.
PORTHAVEN CARE HOMES
Founded by John Storey, Porthaven builds, owns and operates premium quality care homes for the frail elderly and those living with dementia, focusing on the self-pay market. During our investment period, Porthaven’s commitment to quality of care is being supported through the continued investment in homes, as well as the implementation of strong governance processes and the recruitment and retention of the very best staff. A further eleven homes have also been financed and are being built, adding to the original three that existed when Phoenix invested.
Riviera Travel is the UK’s leading provider of overseas guided tours and river cruise holidays, carrying over 115,000 passengers per year. Phoenix invested in December 2014. Since then, there has been a focus on deepening relationships with key newspaper partners, attracting new passengers via innovative channels, launching new products, advancing data analytics and implementing operational insights. The team has been further strengthened with the appointment of a new chairman, as well as four senior executive recruits.
Led by CEO John Treharne, The Gym is a leading operator of low-cost gyms. During Phoenix's investment period, there has been a strong focus on accelerating the roll-out of new gyms in high quality locations, and the rate of new site openings has doubled along with member numbers. A larger and highly experienced management team has also been built. The business achieved a successful IPO in 2016 and Phoenix remains a major shareholder in The Gym.
ASCO is a leading international oil and gas logistics company supporting its customers in the management of equipment and goods for oil and gas drilling and production platforms. Phoenix invested in ASCO in October 2006. During the period, CEO Billy Allan was recruited. There was a strong focus on cross-selling the group’s services to customers across geographies. The group’s international footprint was grown, with the successful completion of ten global acquisitions. ASCO was sold to Doughty Hanson in 2011.
Busaba’s restaurants provide high quality modern Thai food served in stylish surroundings. Phoenix invested in 2008. During the course of the investment period to date, a highly differentiated “Modern Bangkok” brand identity has been created and an exceptional team of casual dining professionals has been built, led by CEO Jason Myers. A national rollout has been implemented, via a range of new restaurant formats, and all aspects of operations have been developed; including supply chain, marketing and customer service.
In 2002, Phoenix and Magdy Ishak established Covenant Healthcare which then acquired Abbey Hospitals, a group of six private acute medical hospitals. Treatment options were broadened extensively with subsequent acquisitions. During the investment period, ensuring quality of care was the key priority. New acquisitions were made, and the company also generated organic revenue and EBITDA growth of two and three times respectively. Covenant was sold in April 2005.
Nationwide Autocentres, now known as Halfords Autocentres, is a car servicing and mechanical repair business also providing MOT tests. Phoenix invested in Nationwide in February 2006. Priorities included a roll-out of new autocentres and growing the corporate fleet division, as well as launching new products and services, ensuring higher productivity and increasing average spend. Revenues increased by over 30%, and profitability by 75%. The company was sold to Halfords PLC in 2010.
PRECISE MEDIA GROUP
Precise, now a part of Kantar Media, provides media monitoring, insight and analysis services to corporate, government and public relations clients. Phoenix invested in 2006. Revenue was grown by more than 70%. The management team was also strengthened with the addition of a new CFO and COO. New products were launched, and three bolt-on acquisitions were completed enabling the business to diversity its product offering. In 2014 Precise was sold successfully to WPP plc, the FTSE 100 global marketing services group.
Led by CEO Andrew Howe, Bridge Leisure is an owner and operator of holiday parks in the UK. Phoenix invested in Bridge Leisure in January 2015. Phoenix and the management team are focusing on driving strong organic growth in existing parks through an expansion in pitch numbers, as well as identifying, acquiring and growing additional parks to form a larger group. Phoenix has provided funding for Bridge Leisure’s two most recent bolt-on acquisitions and a highly experienced non-executive director has joined the board.
Karma Communications Group ("Karma") is a marketing services group with a fully integrated offer and a strong focus on digital and new media channels. Phoenix invested in 2011, and alongside the management team, helped to create one of the UK’s leading independent marketing agencies. This was achieved through a combination of: recruiting senior executives with outstanding reputations in the industry; making further acquisitions to broaden the offer and driving strong organic growth through impressive new business conversion. In 2016, Karma was sold to Accenture.
TRAVEL CHAPTER GROUP
Led by CEO James Morris, Travel Chapter’s flagship brand is Holidaycottages.co.uk, one of the UK’s leading holiday lettings providers. Phoenix invested in 2016. A buy-and-build strategy is being developed, with a focus on acquiring smaller, regional holiday lettings agents. Accelerating organic growth in property numbers is also a priority, as is improving yield management and marketing effectiveness. The Travel Chapter Group is being transitioned from family ownership, and a highly experienced non-executive chairman has been introduced to the business.
Gaucho is a chain of restaurants offering high quality Argentinian steak along with the largest selection of Argentinian wines in the UK. At the time of Phoenix’s investment, Gaucho had an estate of eight restaurants and the chain’s simple, high quality concept lent itself to a sustainable roll-out strategy. During the investment period, a strong pipeline of new sites was developed and a substantial refurbishment programme took place, driving growth. Following this activity, the business was successfully sold to ICG.
HPI is the UK’s leading provider of vehicle checking services to motor dealerships, finance and insurance companies, the police, individuals and a range of trade bodies. HPI’s unique database of information on all motor vehicles in the UK allows its users to prevent fraud and ensure a used vehicle is bought with good title. During Phoenix’s investment period, a core new product was developed and there was a focus on strengthening HPI as a market leader. Following several unsolicited approaches, HPI was sold to Aviva plc.
IMO CAR WASH
Founded in 1965 and based in the UK, IMO Car Wash Group (IMO) is the leading owner and operator of conveyor car washes in Europe. At the time of Phoenix’s investment, IMO had a total of nearly 800 sites across Europe and washed more than 30 million vehicles each year. During the investment period, the scale and reach of the business was increased; new sites were opened in the UK and across Europe. Existing locations were also refurbished and new services were launched before IMO was successfully sold to J.P. Morgan Partners.
Founded in 1996 by Tamara Mellon, Jimmy Choo is a leading luxury designer, wholesaler and retailer of women’s shoes. At the time of Phoenix’s investment, it had a network of four stores. During the investment period, Jimmy Choo’s store network grew to over 20 outlets worldwide, exploiting an untapped demand for the brand’s products. The company also began producing a handbag collection. Following this growth, Jimmy Choo was sold to Lion Capital and Jimmy Choo’s management team.
WESTSTAR HOLIDAY PARKS
Founded in 1988, Weststar owned and operated four high quality freehold holiday parks in the South of England. Phoenix acquired Weststar from Deborah Meaden, who remained a non-executive director and a significant shareholder. Under Phoenix’s ownership, the business made major investments in its parks, and in the management team. An additional park on Hayling Island was also acquired and redeveloped. Following substantial growth, Weststar was sold to PD Parks.
VIVID TOY GROUP
Led by Paul Weston, Eric Rossi and Simon McIntosh, Vivid Toy Group is the largest independent toy company in the UK. Vivid develops products by leveraging exclusive third party intellectual property licenses, and distributes third party products developed by its licensor partners. In addition, Vivid develops its own toy and games IP. During the course of Phoenix’s investment, Vivid’s market-leading position has been strengthened within existing market segments, and its product range has been extended. Furthermore, the business has established operations in France and Germany - to add to its UK base – and has continued to develop its North American trade.
Aspen Insurance Holdings Limited specialises in property and casualty reinsurance and direct insurance underwriting. At the time of Phoenix’s investment, Aspen operated four subsidiaries covering the London, Bermuda and US insurance and reinsurance markets. During the investment period, the company expanded within the US and Bermudan markets and the management team was strengthened. Following impressive financial performance, Aspen underwent a successful IPO.
Ashtead Technology is a global asset rental business supplying specialist equipment to the offshore oil and gas industry. Led by Chief Executive Allan Pirie, it operates from seven locations internationally, with hub operations in the UK, North America and Singapore. Phoenix acquired Ashtead Technology in 2008. During the investment period to date, there has been a focus on exploiting growth opportunities in the global offshore oil and gas market, as well as improving the company’s financial and operational management.
GLOBAL NAVIGATION SOLUTIONS
Global Navigation Solutions Limited (GNS) is a provider of navigation and other safety information to commercial shipping fleets. Led by CEO Paul Stanley, it helps its customers make the transition from paper charts and publications to digital products and services. Phoenix invested in GNS in 2012. So far, the existing business has been grown, new products have been developed and bolt-on acquisitions have been completed. The aim is to build the leading global marine navigational business.
Established in 1990 by Linda Bennett, L.K. Bennett is a leading designer and retailer of branded womenswear, shoes and accessories. It targets the premium “affordable luxury” segment of the market. The business has retail operations in the UK, Europe and US, as well as an international wholesale business. Together, Phoenix and Robert Bensoussan invested in the company in 2008. During the investment period to date, the company’s international presence has grown, with a combination of new stores and wholesale operations. An enhanced online offering has also been developed.
MILL HOUSE INNS
Mill House Inns owned and operated more than 50 high quality managed pubs in the UK. The majority of pubs were wholly-owned, located in commercially attractive areas. During Phoenix’s investment period, organic growth was driven by improving operational performance and undertaking a refurbishment programme. Costs were reduced, high value underperforming pubs were sold, and selective acquisitions were made. Following this success, Mill House was sold to Bank of Scotland Integrated Finance.
Musto is one of the UK’s leading suppliers of specialist technical sports clothing to the sailing, equestrian and shooting markets. During the investment period to date, growth opportunities have been exploited; Musto’s leisurewear range has been extended, and the company’s retail and wholesale distribution capability has been broadened. The strategy going forward is to build the pre-eminent technical clothing business in its chosen markets.
Signum Technology is a manufacturer of safety critical flow control products for the energy sector. The company has three divisions: Gall Thomson supplies marine breakaway couplings which act as safety valves during transfer of crude oil through flexible hoses; KLAW LNG supplies emergency release systems for the safe transfer of cryogenic liquefied natural gas, either ship-to-ship or ship-to-shore; and KLAW Products provides a range of smaller-bore couplings for energy and industrial applications. Following Phoenix’s investment in 2012, there has been a focus on operational improvement, on investing in new manufacturing capacity, on building out the management team, and on investing in new product development to drive organic growth.