While many UK firms have struggled to grapple with the ongoing challenges presented by Covid-19, the nation’s SMEs have continued to lead the way in the post-pandemic recovery, with many capitalising on a unique opportunity to strengthen and diversify their business proposition.
FireCare Security and Electrical is one such firm. Operating under managing director Darren George for more than a decade, the company was acquired by Andrew Hill in the summer of 2020 to become part of the New Path Fire and Security Group, where Hill sits as chief executive. Now, with the support of a £2.25m growth loan from BOOST&Co, the group will be further strengthened by several strategic acquisitions, including that of B2B security systems firm Advance Security, which completed in February 2021.
Businesses will benefit from cross-selling and shared services
FireCare specialises in the installation and maintenance of fire alarm systems and emergency lighting, as well as providing health and safety training and annual risk assessments for commercial clients. The nature of the business, operating in a sector that is underpinned by regulation and legislation, means that the firm can demonstrate excellent recurring revenues, with the majority of its 400-strong customers operating on 12-month rolling contracts.
Setting his sights on diversifying the company’s capabilities, Hill has identified several similarly well-established firms that will complement FireCare’s proposition. All of these businesses have been operating for more than ten years, some in the fire protection space, but others with a greater emphasis on security and alarm systems, offering an excellent opportunity for compliance-focused businesses across the group to cross-sell to customers.
A key element of Hill’s buy-and-build strategy is that the management teams of these businesses are incentivised and nurtured for the long-term, smoothing the transition and helping firms to retain their independence, while benefiting from shared group services such as HR, administration and marketing.
Smart use of funds to consolidate and grow
Hill and his team have spent two years building a pipeline of deals and are well on the way to completing four further acquisitions in 2021, with the same planned for 2022. The majority of BOOST&Co’s investment will be used to fund these acquisitions, but some of the funding will help to accelerate the group’s exciting business development initiatives, such as the implementation of new technologies.
“We have spoken at length about the benefits of using our products for mergers and acquisitions and to refinance, so it is refreshing to see an astute business leader doing exactly that,” says Kerry Barron, senior investment manager at BOOST&Co. “Andrew’s meticulous approach lends itself perfectly to the success of the New Path project and has made the funding process very smooth.”
“Every buy-and-build strategy requires a smart, flexible finance partner, and in BOOST&Co, we have found just that,” Hill says. “We have been extremely impressed with the BOOST&Co team. Unlike many traditional lenders, they are responsive and commercially minded, so I am able to view them as a valued part of my team.”