Private equity firm Andera Partners has acquired a “significant” but minority stake in French vehicle mounted lift manufacturer Klubb though its Andera MidCap fund, which focuses on equity capital of between €20 and €100 million.
With the increased financial support from its new shareholder Klubb says that it intends to consolidate its position in the European market and expand both geographically, while building a wider product range, through organic growth and strategic acquisitions. The move will also provide the opportunity for the management team to acquire a stake in the business.
Andera MidCap’s strategy statement says: “We select companies with growth projects, whose managers have significant equity stakes, and supports them in their development. The equity investment is accompanied by a transformation plan (organisation, human capital, internationalisation, digitisation, etc...) to accelerate their scale-up. Our funds take majority or minority stakes in various scenarios: growth capital, OBO/MBO, spinoff/carve-out.”
Klubb’s current line up runs to around 60 models and variants including vans and truck mounted lifts, along with specialist fire and insulated platforms. It has five assembly sites and has been building its added value services, such as long term rental and product support.
The Klubb business dates back to late 2015, when founder Julien Bourrellis decided to start manufacturing himself, having purchased the Time France distribution and mounting business from Time Versalift through an MBO - see: Time France to start manufacturing. In the past few years, it has acquired the assets of Comilev and then Egi, followed by the acquisition of CPL in the UK. The company now operates across 40 countries, with revenues of around €120 million and 400 employees.
Chief executive Julien Bourrellis said: “I am convinced that Andera is the ideal partner to further accelerate our development, as the organization and investment philosophy of Andera MidCap are fully in line with our international ambitions.”
Andera partners Antoine Le Bourgeois and Sylvain Charignon added: "We are very proud to support Julien Bourrellis and his management team for their new ambitious growth plan. Klubb group perfectly illustrates Andera Midcap’s investment strategy, a seasoned and ambitious management team that is successfully carrying out the change of scale of their group both in France and internationally, and a group whose industrial know-how and service offering are recognized and valued by its customers.”
This looks like a good move financially, and in terms of succession management, but there will be some risk involved. Until now the business has been owned by Bourrellis and run dynamically, with him taking the ultimate decisions quickly, based on 'gut feel' and experience. The acquisitions have been made judiciously and always on advantageous terms and have succeeded in transforming the company from a national van mounted lift manufacturer with an unknown brand name to a €120 million international business, although it still covers a relatively niche part of the powered access market with only few serious head to head competitors.
Going forward there is likely to be pressure to make acquisitions and be seen to be expanding, even if the timing or candidates are not right. On top of this where do you go from van and small truck mounts? Move into larger truck mounted lifts and you are likely to be squashed between very strong German and Italian manufacturers. Spider lifts – well that is becoming increasingly competitive, but acquisition opportunities are more abundant.
Working with private equity firms or for that manner institutional shareholders requires a strong confident manager who is not intimidated by financial types. Bourrellis is more than up to managing this role, so it could be the start of a beautiful friendship.