Speedy acquires Prolift and PS&H
UK general rental company Speedy has acquired Prolift Access from owners Andy Pearson and Andrew Martin in a deal worth £11.4 million, while at the same time acquiring Platform Sales & Hire from Chris and Diane Caney and Duncan and Georgina Howard for £10.7 million. Both are currently members of the Access Alliance of independent regional rental companies.
The company paid £5.9 million in cash for Prolift Access, and assumed its net debt of £5.5 million, following the sale of a property owned by the company to one of the two owners for £1.2 million. Prolift is based in Taunton, Somerset with depots in Bristol, Roche in Cornwall and Ringwood in Hampshire, with 72 employees and a fleet of 770 platforms. It reported revenues for calendar year 2016 of £7.88 million, with pre-tax profits of £939,928 and gross assets of £12.1 million.
Prolift was established in 2010, some five years after Pearson’s previous employer Taunton based A.M.P – where he was managing director with a small minority stake – was acquired by Lavendon. He remained with the business and Lavendon until 2010, when he left to set up Prolift. See New access company in UK
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Andrew Martin (L) and Andy Pearson (R) receiving a Somerset Business Award from Anne Fraser
In the second deal, Speedy paid £7.1 million in cash for Platform Sales & Hire and assumed £3.6 million of net debt, valuing the business at £10.7 million.
The company reported revenues of $9.3 million for the financial year to the end of February, with pre-tax profits of £909,902. Based in Milton Keynes, with a depot in Birmingham and a refurbishment site in Newton Longville, near Milton Keyes, Platform Sales & Hire has gross assets of £9.8 million, runs a fleet of 850 platforms and employs 64.
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Chris Caney (L) and Duncan Howard of Platform Sales & Hire
The company was first registered in 1999 and began trading as a specialist access sales company in Leighton Buzzard in 2002, but gradually built up a small rental fleet of around 30 machines. In 2010 it acquired Milton Keynes based Bucks Access Rentals (BAR), with a fleet of 80 boom and trailer lifts,
and moved into the rental market proper. Although it still runs a healthy sales business and builds the Flying Carpet truck mounted scissor lift.
See Platform Sales acquires BAR
The two deals take Speedy into the mainstream aerial lift rental market, and follows the lead of arch rival HSS, which acquired UK Platforms in 2013.
Combining the acquired fleets of 1,600 units, with the Speedy low level powered access fleet of 3,000 units, plus recent purchases of some larger units, the move almost certainly makes Speedy the fifth largest aerial work platform rental company in the UK in unit terms, just behind A-Plant.
The announcement yesterday said: “The group expects to realise both revenue and cost synergies from the acquisitions, which will allow Speedy to support an increased proportion of customer demand through its core fleet.”
Chief executive Russell Down added: "These acquisitions strengthen our powered access offering and allow us to better serve our customers through the core fleet. I warmly welcome both Prolift Access and Platform Sales & Hire employees to Speedy."
This move follows Speedy’s recent ‘bounce back’, the four challenging years that followed Steve Corcoran’s resignation as chief executive, after the discovery of financial irregularities within its International division in 2013.
It will be interesting to see how Speedy integrates these two operations, and how they perform within the group. While no details have been issued, the comment on cost savings and integration - suggest that they might both be absorbed into the Speedy business? If so the challenge will be retaining the key staff they have acquired. Working in a large corporate structure is totally different from being a team member in a smaller family owned entrepreneurial businesses. One does not need to look too far to see that adding two plus two like this can often make three – if you are lucky.
Regardless of this challenge, Speedy has recognised that in order to expand properly in the more specialist areas such as powered access, it needs to do more than re-hire from partners. This deal is likely to have been keenly promoted by Speedy UK managing director Andy Wright, who worked closely with Pearson at Lavendon between 2006 and 2010.
Interesting times - Watch this space.