Private equity and venture capital is a truly national investor, providing funding and strategic expertise to businesses across the country. In the UK today, over 2,200 companies are currently backed by BVCA members, with over £30 billion invested and employing more than 800,000 people. To view a regional breakdown of the impact private equity and venture capital is having, hover over the map below for key statistics and success stories.
East of England
Number of companies: 81
Total investment: £484 million
Number of companies: 20
Total investment: £686 million
BVCA members with offices in East of England: 6
What they do: Personalised medicine
Head office: Cambridge
Backers: DFJ Esprit, MVM Life Science Partners, Roche Venture Fund, Wren Capital, Calculus Capital
Horizon floated on the London’s Alternative Investment Market in August 2014 following a total of £20 million of venture capital investment since it was founded in 2008. The company - which helps drug makers research genetic mutations that cause disease - recorded a 70% increase in revenues in the year before it went public with sales reaching £6.6 million in 2013. Based in Cambridge UK, it has facilities in Cambridge, Massachusetts and Austria.
What they do: Natural ventilation
Head office: Cambridge
Backers: MMC Ventures, BP, LCIF and Berti Investments
Breathing Buildings was formed in 2006 to develop and offer a new way of ventilating buildings for free. The technology is derived from a Cambridge University patent which Breathing Buildings has a worldwide exclusive license. Sales increased in 2013-14 by 70% and a pipeline of projects worth around £25 million are now being designed with Breathing Buildings equipment. Based in Cambridge UK, it also has a US and Canadian partner headquartered in Atlanta and Winnipeg.
What they do: Offshore oilfield services
Head office: Norwich
Acteon was formed in 2004 and provides support services to oil companies in the construction, production, and decommissioning phases of offshore oilfields. It is a global business with the UK North Sea being a major focus area. In 2012 KKR partnered with management to help accelerate growth in the business and the company has increased revenues, profits, and expanded its facilities and employment count ever since. The employee count increased from 757 in 2012 to 1,085 at year-end 2014 (+43%) and the company has further expansion plans across the UK.
Number of companies: 100
Total investment: £494 million
Number of companies: 42
Total investment: £1,102 million
BVCA members with offices in South West: 4
What they do: Industrial chemicals
A-Gas is one of the largest providers of industrial gases and chemicals in the UK, supplying to the refrigeration and insulation foam industries, as well as providing environmental services. LDC first invested in 2011 and has supported five international acquisitions, giving it a presences in the US, Asia, Australia and South Africa. Based in Bristol and employing over 270 people, it has consistently grown turnover and profits over the past four years.
What they do: Biotech
Where: Trowbridge, Wiltshire
Backers: Technology Venture Partners, Novartis Venture Funds, Johnson & Johnson Innovation, Life Science Partners, BB Biotech, RMI Partners, Consort Medical
Atlas Genetics is pioneering a DNA-based technology with will provide test results in around 30 minutes. With investment from a host of venture capital and corporate backers, it is now accelerating the development of this technology with the initial focus in the areas of Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI) and Hospital Acquired Infections (HAI). It is expected to launch its first product in Europe later this year along with initial US clinical trials.
What they do: Fashion retailer
Where: Weymouth, Dorset
A familiar sight on Britain’s high streets, New Look is quickly becoming a global brand with a quarter of its annual sales generated overseas as of March 2014. Permira invested in 2004 and the fashion retailer now has over 1,100 stores across the globe with 423 in Ireland and mainland Europe, and over 120 franchised outlets in the Middle East, Far East, Eastern Europe and Russia.
Number of companies: 91
Total investment: £94 million
Number of companies: 27
Total investment: £200 million
BVCA members with offices in Wales: 3
What they do: Biotechnology
Backer: Finance Wales, Acceleris
ADC Bio is an innovative biotechnology company developing new process technology to speed, simplify and significantly lower the production costs of the latest generation of anti-cancer blockbuster drugs, Antibody Drug Conjugates (ADCs). Finance Wales and Acceleris Capital have been leading investors since the company formed in 2010, providing a series of funding rounds supporting the company towards commercialisation and expansion of their facilities at St Asaph into an international centre of expertise in the manufacture of ADCs.
What they do: Drug development
Where: Tredegar, Gwent
Penn Pharma is a pharmaceutical services company, providing drug development, manufacturing and clinical trial facilities. With backing from Gresham Private Equity in 2000 until 2007, turnover increased five-fold increase and profits grew ten-fold. Following a buyout by LDC the business opened a new manufacturing facility and grew turnover from £17 million to £30 million, whilst staff numbers reached over 300, a 47% increase on 2007. Penn was bought by US group Packaging Co-ordinators in 2014.
What they do: TV production
Where: Llanelli, Carmarthenshire
Backer: Vitruvian Partners
Tinopolis is one of the largest independent media groups in the UK, responsible for producing TV shows such as the BBC’s Question Time, Big Fat Gypsy Weddings and BT Sport’s football coverage. Vitruvian invested in 2008 and as well as building on its domestic success, Tinopolis has also entered the US market, most recently with the acquisition of Magical Elves, an Emmy Award winning production house.
Number of companies: 131
Total investment: £363 million
Number of companies: 49
Total investment: £1,906 million
BVCA members with offices in West Midlands: 10
What they do: Retail
Backer: Warburg Pincus
Poundland is one of the most familiar names on the British high street, and one of the country’s greatest business stories. With investment from Advent International from 2002 to 2010 and Warburg Pincus from 2010 onwards, store numbers, turnover and employee numbers increased significantly. It now has over 11,500 staff working in more than 530 stores in the UK, 39 in Ireland and is currently undertaking a trial in Spain. Poundland listed on the London Stock Exchange in March 2014 and now has a market value of over £1 billion.
What they do: Social media management
CrowdControlHQ was only founded in 2009 yet has already established itself as one of the leading names in social media management. It provides a single, online dashboard for businesses, helping them keep track of their social media activity, manage online campaigns and improve customer service. Midven invested in the company in 2011 and today it has over 125 customers across a range of sectors, and at the London Olympics was used by a number of the official sponsors and the Team GB athletes to support their online activities.
What they do: School meals
Backer: Key Capital Partners
AiP Catering supplies meals to over 170 schools and is responsible for feeding 50,000 pupils a day across central England and West London. Founded in 1998 the business has grown significantly, employing over 800 people with sales of over £14 million. In 2014 Key Capital Partners invested in the business as it looks to expand its contract portfolio.
Yorkshire & Humber
Number of companies: 93
Total investment: £294 million
Number of companies: 40
Total investment: £1,105 million
BVCA members with offices in Yorkshire & Humber: 10
What they do: Sofa retailer
Backer: Advent International
DFS is the best known sofa retailer in the country with over 100 stores in the UK and Ireland and employing more than 2,600 people. With a floatation on the London Stock Exchange imminent, DFS has received considerable backing from Advent International since its initial investment in 2010. In the past four years DFS has opened 27 new stores, and for the first 10 months of 2014 it recorded revenues of £675 million whilst expanding internationally with the opening of its first store in the Netherlands.
What they do: Glass bottle maker
Backer: CBPE Capital
Yorkshire-based Allied Glass makes glass bottles and containers for world-leading brands in the global spirits industry, including the likes of Johnny Walker, MaCallan and Smirnoff. With a plus 650-strong team, Allied has thrived under private equity ownership. CPBE first invested in 2002 and sold its stake to Equistone in 2010 before reacquiring in 2013. During this time the business has experienced strong growth and has established a leading position in supplying the premium end of the spirits sector - aided by the opening of a Knottingley factory and building a strong international customer base.
What they do: Meat-alternative food brand
Where: Stokesley, North Yorkshire
A household name, Quorn is a market leader in meat-alternative foods, and one which has consistently increased turnover and profits by building on its traditional vegetarian customer base to also cater for the rising demand for healthier food. Exponent invested in 2011 to not only build on its UK market position but also accelerate growth in global markets. Quorn can now be found in supermarkets across Europe and in the US, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand.
Number of companies: 74
Total investment: £266 million
Number of companies: 29
Total investment: £691 million
BVCA members with offices in East Midlands: 3
What they do: Supplier of dried fruit, nut and seed products
Where: Wellingborough, Northamptonshire
Backer: Equistone Partners Europe
Whitworths is the leading UK supplier of dried fruit, nut and seeds for baking and snacking, and the name behind Sunny Raisins. It has been receiving private equity investment since 2006, initially from European Capital which oversaw a doubling of retail revenues. It was bought by Equistone in September 2013. The Wellingborough-headquartered business today enjoys a significant 30% market share and employs 380 people.
What they do: Chilled food distribution
Where: Alfreton, Derbyshire
Backer: Phoenix Equity Partners
NFT transports food and drink across the UK, employing 2,000 people across seven sites. Phoenix Equity Partners supported a management buyout in 2006 from Northern Foods and since then has helped the business to increase capacity by adding new warehouses and expanding its fleet of vehicles alongside the introduction of a new warehouse management and telematics system. Profits doubled by the time Phoenix sold its stake to Hong Kong investor EmergeVest in April 2014.
What they do: Remote monitoring of clinical trials
Backers: Scottish Equity Partners, Albion Ventures
Exco is fast becoming a leading provider in the high growth sector of collecting data directly from patients via mobile devices. Exco has seen revenues grow approximately four times since first its first venture investment in 2011. The company expects to continue driving its rapidly growing market share through its ability to deploy its technology on any type of mobile device. The Nottingham-headquartered business with offices in the US, employs approximately 80 people.
Number of companies: 381
Total investment: £2,939 million
Number of companies: 153
Total investment: £9,040 million
BVCA members with offices in London: 169
What they do: IT services provider
Backer: Core Capital
Kelway provides IT services to small and medium-sized companies throughout the UK and internationally in over 130 countries. Core Capital invested in the business in 2006 and since then the business has grown from a turnover of £45 million to £530 million in the last financial year. The business employs over 900 staff in the UK, with four offices across the country and others in Ireland, Dubai, Singapore and South Africa. Core sold the business in November 2014 to US IT group, CDW.
What they do: Money transfer
Backers: Andreessen Horowitz, Index Ventures, Valar Ventures, IA Ventures, Seedcamp
Founded in 2011 and based in Tech City, TransferWise is an international money transfer business, giving users the flexibility of online access whilst avoiding bank charges. Attracting start-up capital from a range of investors – including Richard Branson and PayPal founder Peter Thiel – TranserWise is today one of the biggest success stories of the technology sector today. It employs 250 people and has set its sights on international expansion, opening an office in the US shortly, followed by Germany and Australia.
What they do: Fitness chain
Backers: Business Growth Fund
Gymbox is a London-based fitness chain which was founded with the simple philosophy of making going to the gym fun. Since it was founded in 2001 the business has opened five clubs and, following investment from the Business Growth Fund in 2014, is now looking to roll-out across the capital with three sites already secured and with eyes on more, including in other cities. Growth investor Octopus Investments also played a role in the Gymbox success story having invested in 2010.
Number of companies: 173
Total investment: £655 million
Number of companies: 22
Total investment: £485 million
BVCA members with offices in North East: 5
What they do: Pharmaceutical manufacturer
Backer: Silverfleet Capital
Founded in 2004, Newcastle’s Aesica Pharmaceuticals is one of Europe’s leading service providers to the global pharmaceutical industry. Since its formation sales have increased from £25 million to £179 million, and it now exports to over 30 countries and employs 1,300 people across the UK and Europe. Private equity supported the business from the very beginning, first through a management buyout from BASF backed by LDC in 2004 and then with an investment from Silverfleet Capital in 2011. Aesica was acquired by UK medical devices group Consort Medical in September 2014.
Where: Cramlington, Northumberland
What they do: Baby and child products
Mayborn is the name behind Tommee Tippee, the UK market leader in baby feeding, hygiene and related baby and toddler products. Following investment from 3i in 2006, the business has undergone a significant transformation and now more than 60% of its sales come from outside the UK following expansion into the highly competitive markets of the US, France and Australia. In the early 2000s it had a market share of 20% - today it is over 40% and is the fifth-biggest baby product business in the world.
What they do: Train Wi-FI
Backer: Amadeus Capital
Getting a Wi-Fi connection on trains can often be a challenge but Nomad is aiming to change that. Founded in 2002 and with Amadeus Capital first investing in 2006, it works with some of the biggest train operators and manufacturers in the world, customers including Virgin Trains, First Great Western, Amtrak and Bombardier. Its systems can be found in Germany, the US and Australia amongst others, and recorded sales of £31.6 million in 2013, growing at over 50% per year since 2010.
Number of companies: 49
Total investment: £289 million
Number of companies: 6
Total investment: £19 million
BVCA members with offices in Northern Ireland: 4
What they do: Defibrillators
Backers: ACT Venture Capital and Enterprise Equity
HeartSine makes innovative defibrillator technology which is used across the world, providing technologically advanced, easy-to-use and affordable defibrillators for use anywhere, including the home, office, schools and shops. A spin-out from Ulster University, venture capital played a key role in HeartSine’s development with Crescent Capital investing in 2000, ACT Venture Capital joining in 2002 before Enterprise Equity participating in 2006.
What they do: Medical devices
Backer: Clarendon Fund Managers, Enterprise Equity
Advances in medical technology, including wireless connectivity and wearable mobile devices are providing medical professionals, doctor’s surgeries and hospitals with important clinical tools to access and care for patients in new and innovative ways. Intelesens is at the forefront of this technology. A university spin-out company, Intelesens maintains a dynamic collaborative relationship with world-class research teams in the Nanotechnology and Integrated Bio-Engineering Centre (NIBEC) based at the Ulster University.
Phoenix Natural Gas
What they do: Gas supplier
Backer: Terra Firma
Phoenix supplies gas to the Greater Belfast area, owning and operating 3,100 km of pipeline. Terra Firma invested in 2005 and today Phoenix is providing gas to over 164,000 customers. Under private equity ownership the business expanded its network and attracted new customers, enabling Phoenix to convert 46% of the market to natural gas. Terra Firma sold its stake in 2013.
Number of companies: 131
Total investment: £549 million
Number of companies: 61
Total investment: £1,934 million
BVCA members with offices in North West: 23
What they do: Internet service provider
Where: Manchester Science Park
Backer: Living Bridge
Metronet (UK) is a business internet service provider which combines wireless technology with traditional fibre optic cables. Headquartered in Manchester with facilities across the North of England, it was set-up in 2003 and first received private equity investment from LDC in 2012. Over the following two years Metronet grew revenues by 98% and by the end of 2014 it was employing over 100 staff members for the first time. It now has over 1,200 customers including Laing O’Rourke, Autotrader and Umbro. LDC sold its stake in 2014 as part of a management buyout by Living Bridge.
What they do: Pub chain
Amber Taverns runs community pubs in the North of England, Midlands and Wales, targeting closed or distressed establishments and refurbishing and revitalising them. Headquartered in Lancashire, Amber offers all its tavern managers a share of the pub’s profits, incentivising them to develop the business. LGV invested in 2010 and at that time there were 56 pubs in the chain, and when it sold its stake in May 2014, this had grown to 95.
What they do: Design and build gas engines
Where: Knowsley, Liverpool
Clarke Energy specialises in the design, installation and servicing of GE’s Jenbacher gas engines. Headquartered in Knowsley, Liverpool, Clarke’s engines are installed in the Shard and Guy’s and St Thomas’ Hospital in London. It also has a very strong international presence, employing 1,000 staff across 16 countries. ECI invested in the business in 2012 and has helped Clarke to expand into new territories and added around 300 people to the workforce.
Number of companies: 102
Total investment: £592 million
Number of companies: 30
Total investment: £556 million
BVCA members with offices in Scotland: 12
What they do: Energy services
Backer: Growth Capital Partners
Scopus Engineering specialises in laser scan surveying in the oil and gas sector. Growth Capital Partners invested in 2013 and since that time the business has doubled its turnover, grown staff numbers by 80% and strengthened its international presence, particularly within the Middle East. Today the business has bases in Abu Dhabi, Malaysia, Brunei and Baku. British engineering consultancy group Amec Foster Wheeler bought the company in December 2014.
What they do: Biotechnology
Backer: Scottish Equity Partners, Albion Ventures
Aridhia is at the cutting edge of biotech, offering an analytics platform to help healthcare professionals manage the treatment of chronic diseases like cancer and diabetes, as well as pioneering advances in personalised medicine, providing treatments tailored around a patient’s genes. The company was founded in 2008 and has been supported in its growth by Scottish Equity Partners and Albion Ventures. Last year the business won funding from Genomics England and launched a new cloud-based platform to improve clinical research.
What they do: Oil and gas logistics
Backer: Doughty Hanson & Co
ASCO is a truly global business. It operates in 35 locations across 16 countries worldwide, employing 2,500 people, and works with the major oil and gas operators to deliver goods and materials to oil rigs and platforms, everything from drilling equipment to food. Private equity has a long involvement in ASCO when Phoenix Equity Partners invested in 2006 before selling to Doughty Hanson in 2011. Under Phoenix’s watch revenues doubled as the business expanded internationally, and as of 2013, ASCO recorded sales of £768 million.
Number of companies: 229
Total investment: £2,088 million
Number of companies: 93
Total investment: £3,289 million
BVCA members with offices in South East: 9
What they do: Energy efficiency
Backer: CBPE Capital
Founded in 2010 as a spin-out from Scottish & Southern Energy, Anesco advises and provides services to homeowners, businesses and local authorities to help them cut their carbon emissions. Scottish Equity Partners invested just a year after the business was established and helped to oversee an exceptional growth story, growing sales from £1 million to more than £100 million in three years and taking more than 80,000 people out of fuel poverty. CBPE invested in November 2014 with plans to grow the business even further.
What they do: Video games and technology
Backers: Balderton Capital
From its home in Oxford, NaturalMotion has built a reputation as one of the leading video game graphics companies the world, with the likes of Rockstar, Disney, Sony and Electronic Arts on its roster of clients. With the backing of Balderton Capital, its software has been used across a range of platforms and it has published a number of highly successful mobile games under its own name, including CSR Racing and Clumsy Ninja. Social gaming company Zynga, who are responsible for games like FarmVille and Words with Friends, bought the company for £317 million in 2014.
What they do: Online cycling retailer
From trainers and bikes to nutritional supplements and snorkels, Wiggle is one of the UK’s largest online sporting retailers, and a business with a long history of private equity involvement. Beginning in 2006 with investment from Living Bridge, Wiggle saw turnover increase by £11 million to £86 million, and its growth has continued with Bridgepoint who bought the business in 2011. Since then the company has launched 12 new websites for international customers, and now sells to over 90 countries and employs over 350 people.