EmergeVest backs NFT deal

UK-based NFT Distribution Operations Limited, a chilled food distributor has completed a deal with private equity investor EmergeVest. The transaction includes integrated debt funding provided by Investec Growth & Acquisition Finance.


NFT Distribution Operations Limited, the UK market leader in chilled food distribution, today announces that the business has completed a deal with new private equity investor EmergeVest, valuing the company at over GBP 60 million. The transaction includes integrated debt funding of up to GBP 42 million provided by Investec Growth & Acquisition Finance.

EmergeVest has acquired the entire shareholding of NFT’s original private equity backer, Phoenix Equity Partners, and alongside Investec is injecting additional capital to further grow the business in the UK and overseas. The current management team at NFT will remain with the business and maintain a significant shareholding in the company.

NFT is the vital supply-chain link between chilled food and drink manufacturers and the retailers. The distribution of products has to be expertly managed under strict temperature-controlled conditions and to very short timelines from the point of production to the supermarket shelf.

Since the MBO from Northern Foods in 2006, the business has seen sales increase 49 per cent, from GBP 114 million to GBP 170 million in the latest year to March 2014. The company runs seven strategically located sites at which it employs 2,000 full-time staff.

Commenting on today’s news David Frankish, CEO of NFT, said: “We have been diligent in our search for a new investment partner and are really pleased to be working with EmergeVest who have exhibited a great understanding of our market and a passion to help NFT fulfil its potential. They are keen to back management’s plans for growth based on innovation and continuous improvement to our service offering delivered by a highly skilled workforce and leading edge systems. With the additional financial backing of Investec, I am confident this deal is great news for our customers, employees and the wider logistics environment.”

Heath Zarin, Managing Director of EmergeVest, added: “We are delighted to establish this relationship with NFT, the UK market leader in chilled food logistics services. We believe the company is well positioned to expand its service offering within the UK and to enter new overseas markets. We have been very impressed by management’s ability to execute and their plans for developing the business further. We are also pleased that Investec participated in the transaction and will provide ongoing support to NFT through an innovative and flexible financing package. Overall, we are very excited about NFT’s growth prospects and ability to provide an ever-expanding suite of leading edge services.”

Richard Daw, Partner at Phoenix Equity Partners commented: “By investing substantial growth capital and by working hard alongside NFT’s excellent management team, we have together succeeded in establishing NFT in its market-leading position. We wish David Frankish and the management team every success in the next phase of the company’s development under their new ownership.”

Paul Rablen of Investec said: “We are partnering with a first class management team in a compelling business. We look forward to providing ongoing funding to underpin the next chapter of NFT’s growth under EmergeVest’s ownership.”

Further enquiries please contact:
Robin Hepburn on 0207 776 8822 or 07710 593668

Notes to editors:

About NFT
NFT is the UK’s leading provider of chilled logistics services for the food retail and manufacturing sectors, providing primary and secondary chilled services through their transport, warehousing and supply chain solutions.

NFT runs 450 articulated vehicles that deliver over 130,000 pallets of groceries each week, travelling daily to every major UK retailer.

For more information: www.nft.co.uk

About EmergeVest
EmergeVest Limited is an entrepreneurial private investment boutique. Formed in 2013 by seasoned international financiers, EmergeVest has assets under management from leading private equity fund investors. EmergeVest prides itself on being a helpful financial partner to businesses, entrepreneurs and management. Although EmergeVest pursues a flexible and opportunistic investment approach, EmergeVest is primarily a growth-oriented investor, favouring situations where it can support businesses, entrepreneurs and managers to build value.
For more information: www.emergevest.com

About Investec Growth & Acquisition Finance
Investec Growth & Acquisition Finance is part of Investec Specialist Bank. It works with entrepreneurs, management teams and private equity houses to provide finance to UK mid-market companies. Their flexible solutions cover the entire capital structure offering revolving and amortising senior cash flow lending, mezzanine finance and minority equity on either a standalone or integrated basis. They are a single, empowered and responsive team focussed on making deals happen and building strong relationships with clients.
For more information: www.investec.co.uk/gaf

Advisors on the transaction were:
Legal Advisors
• Ashurst (advisor to EmergeVest)
• Travers Smith (advisor to Phoenix)
• Irwin Mitchell (advisor to Investec)

Corporate Finance
• KPMG (advisor to EmergeVest)
• Rothschild (advisor to Phoenix)
• Jamieson Corporate Finance (advisor to the management team)