The strength of Avery’s management team appears to have been a significant factor in Graphite’s decision to invest. Group managing director John Strowbridge, for instance, has built and profitably sold several similar businesses in the past, while commercial director Ian Matthews and chairman Roger Storey previously held senior positions at Barchester Healthcare and Ridgemont Care Homes respectively. ‘This is an interesting commercial opportunity and the management team are an absolutely critical part of that,’ Graphite’s Mark Hudson confirms.
Currently operating homes in Bradford and Chester, Avery hopes to grow rapidly through acquisition and plans to open at least four more sites over the next six months. The purchase of small-chain operators will also be considered.
In order to achieve this the group has secured a total £29 million of funding. Graphite is providing the equity part of this package, with debt coming from Royal Bank of Scotland. This, says Hudson, represents ‘reasonable fire power for the next 12-18 months’, though additional cash will be made available if required.
Having sold its stake in the aforementioned Ridgemont to rival Ashborne Healthcare (generating a 6.4 times return on investment) earlier this year, Graphite has already enjoyed tremendous success in the care home sector.