Duo buys toiletries manufacturer

A management duo have bought a Northamptonshire-based toiletries manufacturer from the family that established the business in 1883.

A management duo have bought a Northamptonshire-based toiletries manufacturer from the family that established the business in 1883.

A management duo have bought a Northamptonshire-based toiletries manufacturer from the family that established the business in 1883.

Leslie Barber and Scott Dougan are the new owners of H. Bronnley & Co after buying the company for an undisclosed seven-figure cash sum.

A proportion of the consideration will be used to fund the shortfall in Bronnley’s pension scheme.

Barber, a former managing director of Lornamead’s non-American business, and Dougan, once Revlon’s European finance director, bought the company as the first step in a buy-and-build strategy to create a European toiletries business.

Barber told reporters: “We identified target organisations that fit our base platform requirements, and Bronnley was one of those. We have bought a fully integrated operation, including a manufacturing plant and sales forces in the UK and Germany. We will be using those as the basis to buy, license and distribute other brands for those looking for an entry point in the UK, Ireland and Germany.”

“From Bronnley’s perspective, it is a quintessentially British brand, but we plan to make it more relevant to today’s shoppers,” he added.

The deal was financed by private equity firm Kaye Enterprises, which usually invests some £5 million in acquisitions. HSBC provided debt.

Barber and Dougan have appointed an interim marketing support team but will be looking to recruit a full team by the end of the year. They have also made Stuart Rose, currently chairman of Hamley’s and a former chief executive of the Body Shop, Bronnley’s chairman.

Following the completion of the deal, Bronnely’s existing chairman Ann Rossiter, whose family founded the company in 1883, has retired. The company will continue to operate from its Brackley site.

Barber and Dougan were advised throughout the transaction by Adam Dowdney of Pitmans Solicitors and Nick Rogers, head of corporate at James Cowper.

Rogers said the firm’s dedicated corporate finance team was delighted to have been asked to be the lead adviser to the buy-in team.

He added that he has known the duo for several years and completed a deal that met the requirements not just of the acquirers, the vendors, and the debt and equity funders, but also the pension trustees.

“This transaction provides the platform for Scott and Leslie to grow the business significantly over the coming months and years and James Cowper looks forward to assisting the team during this period.”

Dowdney, a partner in Pitmans’ Thames Valley office, said this was an exciting and high profile acquisition. “This deal was unusual in that it is rare for a private acquisition to be done by way of an offer, which was necessary due to the large number of shareholders in Bronnley.

“There were many complex and specialist issues that arose during the acquisition process, for example on deal structuring, pension and banking matters but the quality, depth, and experience of the Pitmans team meant we were able to provide practical and commercial solutions to our clients to enable the deal to proceed to a timely completion,” he added.

“We look forward to our continued involvement in the development and expansion of the group as part of Leslie and Scott’s buy-and-build strategy and were delighted to be selected to act for them on this first of hopefully many transactions.”

Kaye Enterprises and HSBC were advised by Tenon Transaction Services, which reported on the financial and management due diligence.

Tenon’s Jonathan Wade said: “This transaction represents a clear opportunity to leverage the potential of a quality brand and we were delighted to work together with management and the funders to help secure a positive outcome.”

Bronnley operates as a fully integrated business, manufacturing its own brand soaps, talcum powders, lotions, creams and fragrances, which it mixes and blends on site. The company is also a premium quality manufacturer of private labelled products for prestigious retailers and brand owners.

Marc Barber

Marc Barber

Marc was editor of GrowthBusiness from 2006 to 2010. He specialised in writing about entrepreneurs, private equity and venture capital, mid-market M&A, small caps and high-growth businesses.

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