Business Growth Fund in record year of North West exits

The Business Growth Fund (BGF) said it has achieved a record year for realisations in the North West of England, having completed three highly successful exits “with an enterprise value of £400 million and a combined money multiple of more than 3.7x.”

In 2022, BGF exited St Pierre Groupe, the bakery firm headquartered in Didsbury, Manchester, following its acquisition by Grupo Bimbo, one of the world’s largest baked goods and snacking companies.

BGF originally backed St Pierre Groupe with an £8 million investment in November 2018. The exit generated a money multiple of 9.6x and an IRR of 85% for BGF.

In addition, BGF exited both Liverpool’s Sentric Music, which was acquired by Swiss fintech company, Utopia Music, and Manchester-headquartered NSS, which was acquired by Premier Technical Services Group Ltd (PTSG).

£53 million was invested into the growth economy of the North West, with BGF completing seven new deals in 2022, including Heywood-based logistics and courier specialist, ITD Global and Wigan-based Evolution Aqua – a designer, manufacturer and supplier of aquatics and water filtration products.

Other deals in 2022 include social media business KOMI Group, R&D tax relief specialists RDS and apprenticeship training provider Apprentify.

BGF continued to grow its North West team and hired Courtney Walker as its newest investor.

Neil Inskip, head of BGF in the North West and Midlands, said: “Over the last 12 months, the team has continued to demonstrate the strength and diversity of the BGF investment model, supporting companies to achieve their growth potential while delivering exceptional returns for businesses and all shareholders.

“Our proven approach continues to resonate with businesses and it has allowed us to back a wide-range of emerging and high-growth sectors, while supporting portfolio companies to achieve their ambitions.”

The year was rounded off by the launch of the BGF Foundation, with a commitment of at least £1.5 million from BGF and the portfolio over the next three years.

BGF will provide funding and practical support to help small and mid-sized charities, focused on alleviating social disadvantage, to scale up their impact across the UK. Neil Inskip is a trustee of the Foundation.

Inskip added: “BGF was set up to continue to back businesses in challenging times. Our aim in the coming 12 months is to build strong relationships with fast-growth and entrepreneurial-led businesses looking for a non-controlling equity partner approach.

“As with any difficult economy, strong, well-capitalised businesses in resilient sectors will find opportunities to seize market share, particularly from less nimble, over leveraged rivals. The region has a strong reputation in sectors including tech, education, and healthcare, which we expect to remain resilient in 2023.”