Mid-market private equity firm LDC has backed the £17million management buyout of Panther Logistics, the UK’s largest independent two-man next day home delivery provider.
Panther, which is headquartered in Northampton, specialises in two-man and one-man assisted delivery services for major brands and retailers including Dunelm, Silent Night and Bosch Siemens Group.
It provides customers with next day deliveries and UK-wide coverage via a network of eight strategically located regional hubs and employs 300 people, expanding to over 800 with additional temporary staff during peak periods. Its fleet comprises 300 fully-liveried vehicles, whilst its proprietary IT platform offers market-leading track and trace capabilities to its end customers.
Panther has more than doubled sales in the last two years to almost £30m thanks to the continued growth of online shopping and its reputation for customer focus and service excellence. It was recently ranked amongst the UK’s fastest growing 100 firms.
The buyout was led by the business’ managing director Colin McCarthy alongside seven other members of the management team. As part of the deal, LDC has acquired a significant minority shareholding in the firm, enabling its founder, Wilson Barrett, to retire.
The firm has also appointed Greg Ball as a non-executive chairman. Ball’s retail career includes senior positions with Littlewoods and Home Retail Group, where he was a main board director with responsibility for the company’s home delivery operations.
The transaction was led by LDC investment directors Rob Schofield and Victoria Marcer, who both join the board, and was supported by senior debt facilities from Santander’s structured finance team in the Midlands.
Colin McCarthy, managing director of Panther, said: “This is an exciting point in the business’ journey for our employees and customers alike. Bringing on board an experienced investment partner like LDC provides a springboard for further growth and investment. We were impressed by the team’s understanding of our business, LDC’s track record in the sector and their commitment to helping us achieve our long-term ambitions
“With the growth of online shopping forecast to continue, the quality of delivery has become a key differentiator for many retailers and a key deciding factor for consumers. We now have the ideal opportunity to consolidate our position in the market through continued investment and innovation.”
Rob Schofield, investment director at LDC, said: “Panther is a great example of the type of business we’re keen to support. It has successfully positioned itself at the forefront of the fast-growing specialist delivery sector, capitalising on consumer trends that have seen delivery service come to the fore. The firm has a highly experienced management team led by Colin McCarthy, and we look forward to working with them to support their ambitions for further growth and development.”
LDC was advised on the deal by Gowling WLG UK, BDO Birmingham, PwC and CIL. Panther was advised by Livingstone Partners and Howes Percival.
In 2015, LDC invested £350m of equity in 14 businesses and generated exit proceeds of more than £500m. Earlier this year, it backed the secondary buyout of CitySprint, the UK’s leading technology driven same day distribution company.
LDC, which is part of Lloyds Banking Group, has pledged to invest £1.2bn of equity into UK-based growth businesses over the next three years. Its 90-strong portfolio of companies includes online travel agent Iglu.com, lifestyle brand Joules and restaurant owner D&D London.