Five consulting firms advise on acquisition of Willerby by Equistone

29 June 2017

Equistone Partners has purchased a majority stake in UK-based static caravan manufacturers Willerby from Caird Capital, for an undisclosed fee. Five consulting firms played a role in brokering the deal; EY and OC&C Strategy Consultants were among those who advised the buyers, while DC Advisory and L.E.K. Consulting advised the sellers. PwC meanwhile played a role on both sides of the table.

One of Europe’s leading mid-market private equity investors, has announced its investment in Willerby, the UK’s foremost manufacturer of static holiday homes. Equistone acquired a majority stake in the company from the Caird Capital group, and though the financial terms remain undisclosed, Willerby generates an annual turnover of £155 million, suggesting the fee would be substantial.

As the company looks to expand within a growing UK holiday home market, as the falling value of pound sees more consumers likely to holiday domestically while an ageing population see major growth in ‘staycations’, Equistone’s investment will be used for new product development, and quality production to meet the subsequent boom in demand.

Equistone buys a majority stake in UK-based static caravan manufacturers Willerby

Founded in 1946, Willerby is the largest provider of static caravans and lodges in the UK, having since established itself within the holiday home market as a brand associated with premium quality, technical innovation, and breadth of offering. The company produces 70 different models of static caravans and lodges across 23 product ranges at a variety of price points.

The acquisition gives Equistone, which established itself as an independent investment firm following a 2011 buyout of Barclays Private Equity by its staff, hopes the move will provide access profit generated from long-standing relationships within retail markets as well as consumer sales, with Willerby boasting an extensive national dealer network and long-standing relationships with holiday park operators.

Equistone was advised on the acquisition by a number of firms, including consulting industry players EY and OC&C Strategy Consultants along with PwC. The Big Four firm meanwhile also advised Caird Capital on the sale of their shares, alongside fellow professional services firms DC Advisory, DLA Piper and L.E.K. Consulting.

Other advisory firms that served Equistone are Lincoln International, Marlborough Partners, Travers Smith, and Newton. Willerby’s management was given additional advice by Jamieson Corporate Finance and CMS.

EY, OC&C, PwC, DC Advisory and L.E.K. Consulting

Andi Tomkinson and Richard Briault-Hutter from Equistone led the firm’s investment in Willerby. Tomkinson, who is also Investment Director at Equistone Partners Europe, commented, “A strengthening ‘grey pound’ driven by demographic change and the long-term upswing in Britons’ propensity for ‘staycations’ – the opportunity to invest was an exciting one. We look forward to working with the entire Willerby team to help the business realise its potential for further growth.”

Peter Munk, CEO of Willerby meanwhile commented, “The market opportunity within the UK holiday home sector is exciting and, with our scale, skilled passionate people, technical innovations, and leading production, we are well-placed to capitalise upon it. We’re delighted to have found in Equistone an investor with not only a proven track record in supporting mid-market companies’ growth, but also an understanding of the importance of our proud history of premium quality and technical innovation to the Willerby brand’s success.”


Private equity firms ramp up sustainability focus

19 April 2019

In line with business leaders across the industrial gamut, private equity firms are increasingly on board with sustainability projects. According to a new study, the investment arms for major funds are implementing a number of strategies aimed at supporting sustainable economic development in line with global goals.

While the business world has finally begun to acknowledge the danger of climate change, effective action plans remain difficult to achieve. The Paris Agreement has stipulated a clear target for the decades leading up to 2100, although massively reducing emissions while not crashing the economy could be a tall order.

Businesses that are able to acquire capital can use it to boost productivity and output, thereby creating a virtuous cycle of development. However, some businesses are better able to utilise resources than others, both in terms of their relative productivity, as well as the value of the respective outcomes relative to costs (including environmental harms). Financing can therefore provide an avenue to select businesses that are aligned with various global sustainability goals, while shunning those that drive little or unsustainable social value creation.

Top moves made by investment arms towards responsible investment

Profit has for the longest time been the central criterion for investment decisions. Yet profit at any cost is increasingly seen as creating considerable social harms, while often delivering only marginal value. As a result, the private equity sector, which was initially sluggish to change its ways with regards to sustainability, has started to see the topic as an opportunity as much as a challenge.

A new study from PwC has explored how far sustainability goals have become part of the wider investment strategy for private equity (PE) firms. The report is based on analysis of a survey of 162 firms and includes responses from 145 general partners and 38 limited partners.

Maturing sustainability

Top-line results show that responsible investment has become an issue for 91% of respondents. For 81% of respondents, ESG (environmental, social, and corporate governance) was a board matter at least once a year, while 60% said that they already have implemented measures to address human rights issues. Two-thirds have identified and prioritised Sustainable Development goals that are relevant to their investment segments.

Change in concern and action on climate-related topics over time

While there is increasing concern around key issues, from human rights protections to environmental and biodiversity protection, the study finds there are mismatches between concern and action. For instance, concern among investment vehicles around climate change has increased since 2016.

In terms of risks to the PE firm itself, concern has increased from 46% of respondents in 2016 to 58% in the latest survey. However, the number who have taken action remains far below those concerned, at 9% in 2016 and 20% in 2019. Given the relatively broader scope of investment opportunities, portfolio companies face higher risks – and more concern – from PE professionals, at 83% in the latest survey. However, action is less than half of those concerned, at 31%.

Changing climate

In terms of the climate footprint of the portfolio companies, 77% of respondents state concern in the latest survey. 28% of respondents are taking action through the implementation of measures to mitigate their concerns.

Concern and action taken on ESG issues

In terms of the more pressing issues for emerging responsible investment or ESG issues, governance concern of portfolio companies comes in at number one (92% of respondents), while 60% have taken action on it. Firms have focused on improving awareness – setting up policies and a range of training modules for their professionals around responsible investment decision making. Cybersecurity takes the number two spot, with 89% concerned and 41% implementing strategies to mitigate risks.

Climate risks take the number three spot in terms of concern for portfolio companies (83%), but falls behind in terms of action (31%). Health and safety track records are a key concern at 80% of businesses, with 49% implementing action. Gender imbalance within PE firms themselves ranks at 78%, which is being dealt with by 31%. A recent survey from Oliver Wyman showed that there is gender balance at 13% of GP teams in developed countries.

Biodiversity is also an increasingly pertinent topic, with risks from pollution and chemical use increasingly driving wider systematic risks around environmental outcomes. It featured at number eight on the ranking of most likely global risks for the coming decade, with its impact at number six. As it stands, biodiversity is noted as an issue at 57% of firms, with 15% implementing action.