Business Growth Fund Backs Welsh Scaffolding Business

Business Growth Fund has invested 5.4 million pounds ($8.8 million) growth capital in Swanbridge Hire and Sales, a provider of industrial scaffolding services, based in Barry, South Wales. This is the fourth investment to be led by BGF’s regional team for the South West of England and South Wales.


Business Growth Fund (BGF), established to help the UK’s fast growing smaller and medium sized businesses, today announced its £5.4m investment of growth capital in Swanbridge Hire and Sales (SHS), a specialist provider of high specification industrial scaffolding services, based in Barry, South Wales.
This is the fourth investment to be led by BGF’s regional team for the South West of England and South Wales; and SHS is the first business to be backed by BGF in Wales. The investment was managed for BGF by Paul Oldham, Ned Dorbin and Alex Garfitt. SHS was introduced to BGF by Grant Thornton Corporate Finance in Cardiff.
Founded in 1998 by Paul Smith, SHS erects and dismantles large scale, technically demanding scaffolding structures for clients in the petrochemical, oil and power generation sectors. It also provides complementary insulation services. SHS’ services are often required by site owners, operators and contractors for essential maintenance and refurbishment work of industrial plants. Offering the highest safety and operational standards, SHS has secured long term contracts with multinationals such as Dow Corning, Murco and Alstom. SHS delivered turnover of £14m in the year ending July 2012, which represents a 60% annual increase.
The company’s head office is in Barry, South Wales, and it employs 226 people.
The investment of growth capital from BGF will support SHS’s expansion into new sectors such as nuclear, pharmaceutical and demolition; enable the development of extended service lines such as insulation, which can be delivered alongside its core scaffolding offering. The intention is to double the size of the business in the next three years, which in turn has the potential to create over 100 new jobs across the various sites the company operates at.
BGF used its ability to structure investments flexibly, providing a mixture of preference shares or subordinated loan stock in line with investee preference. Richard Kilner, previously Managing Director of Cliffe Group (a construction and manufacturing group) and a Partner in the 3i infrastructure and growth capital teams, will join the SHS board as non-executive Chairman. Paul Oldham will also join the board as BGF’s representative.
Ongoing construction and decommissioning of large-scale UK power plants will continue to drive scaffolding demand. The UK scaffolding services market is currently valued at £4.2bn and is forecast to grow to £4.8bn by 2017.
Paul Oldham, BGF’s regional director for South Wales and the South West of England, commented:
“We are delighted to be backing SHS and supporting Paul Smith and the management team in realising their ambitions for the business.
“SHS has consistently won market share on the back of its reputation for delivering a high quality service and its responsiveness to customer needs. Boosted by an injection of growth capital, it is in great shape to take advantage of growing demand for scaffolding services, challenge larger competitors and increase the number and size of contracts it takes on.
“Across the UK, BGF has been seeing increasing demand from businesses looking for long-term funding and has so far supplied over £80m to ambitious businesses. SHS is the first of what we hope will be many successful investments in Wales. We are working hard to inspire more entrepreneurs in this region and look forward to making a real difference to the local community of small and mid-sized companies that need guidance and support, as much as funding, to achieve growth.”
Paul Smith, founder and CEO of SHS, commented:
“Over the last decade, SHS has built up a strong position in the scaffolding services market. However, in our business a certain level of upfront investment of equipment and working capital is needed when taking on new contracts and we had reached a point where we felt unable to take advantage of all opportunities available to us. This is a frustrating position for any ambitious business, and something we can now actively address with the support of BGF.
“With their support, we plan to strengthen our core capabilities, develop a broader range of services and expand into new sectors and geographies. This will allow us to best meet the needs of our clients.”
Chris Burgess, Associate Director at Grant Thornton, added:
“SHS has succeeded in establishing itself as a key supplier in highly regulated environments and in order to take advantage of the opportunities available to it, the company clearly needed a significant level of investment. We spoke to a targeted group of potential investment partners and were impressed by BGF’s approach throughout the process. This is an excellent outcome for SHS and Paul Smith, and I am sure that both parties will work successfully together to achieve SHS’ growth plans.”
The advisers to the transaction were:
Corporate Finance – Grant Thornton (Chris Burgess)
Legal – Geldards (Andrew Morris)
Tax – KPMG (Simon Jones)
Insurance – Thomas Carroll (Richard Thomas)
Financial due diligence – Deloitte (Duncan Down)
Legal – Eversheds (Paul Pugh)
SHS’s bankers are Barclays, Cardiff (Karen Thomas)
Emily Weston, Equity Dynamics – 07825 326 442
Corinna Osborne, Equity Dynamics – 07825 326 440
Notes to editors:
About Business Growth Fund:
Business Growth Fund has been established to help Britain’s fast growing smaller and medium sized businesses. Growth potential is the key criteria. BGF will invest between £2m and £10m per business in return for a minimum 10 per cent equity stake and a seat on the board for a BGF director. BGF will provide long-term equity investment for those growing companies that today do not have access to this source of capital. As such BGF hopes to be a catalyst for growth among smaller UK companies.
BGF is an independent company with capital of up to £2.5 billion, backed by five of the UK’s main banking groups – Barclays, HSBC, Lloyds, RBS, and Standard Chartered. BGF is managed completely autonomously with an independent management team.
BGF is one of a range of initiatives designed to forge a new relationship between the banking sector and UK businesses, and BGF works in close collaboration with the British Bankers’ Association as well as other key business organisations across the UK.