New owner for Accès Industrie

French rental company Accès Industrie is set to have a new owner - family owned and managed Delmas Investissements & Participations - which has agreed a deal to buy the company from current majority owner Equistone Partners.

Equistone has held a majority stake in the company since acquiring it from Parquest Capital in February 2020. Parquest took over the company in October 2017 when it acquired what was a struggling public company, refinancing its debts and purchasing the equity held by Butler Capital Partners.

In terms of revenues and headcount the business has grown substantially under both recent owners, going from €53 million in 2016 to €91million during Parquest watch, and from €91 million to €140m with Equistone at the helm. Headcount has also risen from 334 to 650 thanks to both organic growth and acquisitions, including Spanish company Uping in 2022 and Watine Manutention last October. Throughout this period the business has been managed by Éric Llacombe and Pascal Meynard, more recently joined by Lionel Buzet.

Grégoire Châtillon and Jérémy Mathis of Equistone said: “The partnership with Accès Industrie has been a very successful journey driven by an outstanding management team. The company has delivered an impressive performance, growing considerably both organically and through acquisitions, and we are convinced that Accès Industrie is ideally positioned to continue its growth story in France and in Europe.”

Hervé Delmas added: “We congratulate the management team and Equistone for the superb growth Accès Industrie has achieved in recent years. We are very happy to become, alongside regional investors, the new long-term shareholders of this high performing company and, together with the management team, intend to consolidate its strong regional roots, DNA and brand, while pursuing its broader national and international development.”

A brief history of Acces Industrie

Based in Tonneins between Bordeaux and Toulouse, Accès Industrie was established by Daniel Duclos as a mast boom rental fleet within Delta Systeme, which designed and manufactured the original Toucan mast boom products. Duclos realised that volumes from selling Toucans to end users would never go beyond a certain niche level. They needed to be widely available for rent. The problem was that none of the established rental companies were interested - “it’s too niche” “We have no demand” etc …So, he set up his own rental fleet to sell the concept, and soon showed the established rental companies what could be achieved. Encouraging them to start adding them to their fleets.

In 1995 he and his business partner sold Delta to Grove, (Grove Manlift) which had no interest in the rental fleet, so Duclos was allowed to keep it, even though he was employed by Grove on a two year contract to manage the Delta business for a transition period. In 1997, having completed his contract, he used the Toucan fleet as a base for Accès Industrie. And supported by generous financing from Genie, expanded at a blisteringly rapid pace, which included a move into Spain and then Portugal, followed by a stock market flotation in 2001. The following year the company ran into a deep financial crisis as the economy slumped. The business was restructured and financed machines sent back to Genie. The business survived in name and by 2004 stability began to return, leading to the purchase of a majority stake by Butler Capital Partners in 2006. This was followed by further expansion, including a foray into the North African market. The company began to lose money as its debt mountain climbed and started to look shaky again. In 2015 a new rescue plan was put together involving the sale or closure of its overseas ventures, to re-focus on the French market. This led to the Parquest acquisition.

Vertikal Comment

The Accès industrie business today, appears to be as strong as it has ever been, and on a truly solid footing, with a strong management team. Delmas, is a long established equipment and services related group with revenues estimated at more than €3 billion.

The Delmas family can trace its roots back to a hardware business in Saint Louis, Senegal in 1853. At one time it was the Caterpillar dealer in 11 west African countries. The family owned company is based in Bordeaux - close to Accès headquarters - and already owns other material handling and equipment rental businesses including Manutention Services , the Hyster dealer in a number of West African countries, and generator rental company Africa Power Services.

As a result it looks as though it will be a very good partner for Accès, which will build and support the business and its employees over the long term.