Forrest ramps up growth efforts by bringing in Palatine Private Equity

LDC has achieved a partial exit from social housing contractor Forrest through a deal which sees Palatine Private Equity enter as a new backer.

Palatine Private Equity has invested £16 million into Forrest following a period of business which has seen it grow from a turnover of £38 million to £100 million in five years.

The deal takes the form of a secondary buy-out, with Palatine Private Equity acquiring what it describes as a ‘significant’ minority stake.

Bolton-headquartered Forrest supplies refurbishment and maintenance services to the social housing market. With a focus on the North of England, the business was one of the first registered installers under the government’s Green Deal and Energy Company Obligation (ECO) directives.

LDC, the private equity arm of Lloyds Bank, first become involved with the business in June 2007 when the firm led a management buy-out. Its partial exit of the business has resulted in a 2.4x return on its original commitment.

The investment is Palatine’s fourth from its second fund, a pot which raised £150 million in June 2013. Its three other new portfolio companies are private medical insurance firm Chase Templeton, amusement arcade business Playnation and price comparison site Icelolly.

Lee McCarren, CEO of Forrest, comments, ‘With Palatine alongside us as an additional investor, we can continue to drive improvements in the quality of our customer service offering, as well as developing more new and complementary service lines.

‘This on-going strategy has been the key to our many consecutive years’ growth and to our strong, long-term customer relationships.’

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According to a statement, Forrest has an order book of £1.2 billion and grew sales by some 50 per cent during 2012. Alongside the Palatine investment, the firm’s partner Ed Fazakerley and managing partner Gary Tipper are joining as non-executive directors.

Industry heavyweight Bob Holt, who heads up social housing company Mears Group, is also taking up a position – as non-executive chairman.

Fazakerley adds, ‘Management has succeeded in broadening the business offering in order to capitalise on the significant new-build and renewables opportunities that are available in the social housing arena.’

Hunter Ruthven

Hunter Ruthven

Hunter was the Editor for from 2012 to 2014, before moving on to Caspian Media Ltd to be Editor of Real Business.

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