Stories of Growth

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Annual Report 2021

A decade of powering growth

A different way forward in equity investing

Executive Chair’s statement

A record-breaking year

The history books will remember 2021 as a tough year – one of lockdowns, travel restrictions and an ongoing pandemic with many knock-on effects, such as supply chain shortages.

But for BGF, 2021 was an extraordinary year, in which a combination of hard work, a supportive network and a mature investment model helped us achieve record-breaking results.

A total investment of nearly £600m during the year – more than one and a half times what we deployed in 2020 – was a phenomenal achievement. Not only that but we generated outstanding and unprecedented returns by exiting our investments in 39 businesses – evidence of our mature model and strong portfolio.

We have now backed more than 450 companies. But this is not a case of job done, it is job begun – and a lot more to do.

Executive Chair: Stephen Welton
Founded BGF: 2011

We have now have backed more than 450 companies. But this is not a case of job done, it is job begun – and a lot more to do.

2021 Highlights

A year of backing even more brilliant businesses

In 2021, we supported 67 new businesses across the UK and Ireland. We have now supported more than 450 companies since 2011 with a total of more than £3bn.

BGF’s first ten years built us a fantastic foundation. Imagine what we can build in the next ten.

Stephen Welton Executive Chair
£ 2.6 bn

Value of our portfolio at year end

39

Investment exits – more than any other year

£ 600 m

Invested – more than ever before and 55% more than 2020

72 %

Of capital invested outside London and the South East

65

Portfolio businesses provided with follow-on funding

View from the Chief Investment Officer

Exits are how we measure our success

The ability to exit an investment at an attractive return is what defines a business like ours. It is how we measure our success.

I am therefore delighted that we made a total return of £571m during the year, equivalent to an average 2x money multiple – in other words, a doubling of our invested sum. This result was not driven by a small number of outlier events. We achieved a broad range of positive exits across sectors and at various cheque sizes.

This result confirms what many of us feel: that as the BGF model matures, we are backing more great businesses than ever, providing effective support to the portfolio, and ultimately making a strong return when those businesses leave us to continue their journey.

Chief Investment Officer: Andy Gregory

As the BGF model matures, we are backing more great businesses than ever, providing effective support to the portfolio, and ultimately making a strong return when those businesses leave us to continue their journey.

Rebalancing the economy

Our regional approach

Born out of the global financial crisis, BGF was founded in 2011 by our bank shareholders Barclays, HSBC, Lloyds Banking Group, NatWest and Standard Chartered, which collectively provided £2.5bn to invest in small and mid-sized businesses. In Ireland, we are backed by the Ireland Strategic Investment Fund, AIB, Bank of Ireland and Ulster Bank.

16

Offices in the UK and Ireland

  • Portfolio companies
  • BGF regional offices
450 +

Companies backed

£ 3 bn

Total invested since 2011

Female entrepreneurship

Supporting women-led businesses

£100m invested in women-led businesses
11 women-led businesses backed
In 2021, BGF invested roughly one sixth of our invested capital – nearly £100m – in businesses run by women.

We are the UK’s leading investor in women entrepreneurs. Our success has been recognised by the ScaleUp Institute, which has named us the leading investor in female-led scale-up businesses for three years in a row.

BGF is committed to increasing our support for talented female entrepreneurs. As well as hiring more women, we are working hard to connect experienced women with our portfolio companies at board level.

Case study

Elvie

BGF was the lead investor in a £58m funding round for female technology business Elvie, founded by CEO Tania Boler (pictured), which makes devices to improve women’s lives such as a pelvic floor trainer and silent breast pump. The deal was brought to our investment committee by an all-female investment team of Daina Spedding, Bethany Shiers and Lucy Edwardes-Jones.

Tania Boler, founder of Elvie
Responsible business

How we walk the walk

‘Environmental, social and governance’ (ESG) is a defining feature of BGF’s purpose.

BGF measures and manages our impact on people, communities and environments – both internally and through the businesses we invest in – because we’re long-term by nature, we care about doing the right thing, and we are committed to good growth.

In 2021, we recruited Roshni Bandesha, our first head of ESG and sustainability, to spearhead efforts to become an ESG leader in our industry.

Across our portfolio, there are a variety of experiences with ESG. Some businesses, such as recipe box business Gousto, have achieved external certification as a B Corp. Others are at an earlier stage of their journey. Whatever their situation, we are happy to work with them to put ESG on their agenda and help them achieve their goals.

Applying ESG principles in our activites

  • Measuring our environmental footprint
  • Signatory to the Principles for Responsible Investment, backed by the United Nations
  • Clean growth advisory board chaired by Baroness Brown of Cambridge
  • First head of ESG and sustainability appointed
  • ESG principles embedded in our investment process
  • Sustainability support offered to portfolio through Expertise On-Demand service
  • Investments in a range of companies tackling the net zero challenge

 

Case study

Lightfoot

CEO: Rupert Lyon Taylor
Company Description: Automotive and aerospace
Location: Bristol
Invested: Nov 2018 - Oct 2021

Exeter-based Lightfoot provides in-vehicle guidance technology to help drivers stay within an engine’s efficiency ‘sweet spot’, resulting in fewer accidents, lower fuel bills and reduced environmental damage. In 2018, BGF invested £3.2m in the business. We exited the investment in 2021 when Lightfoot was acquired by private equity firm Volpi Capital. Rupert Lyon Taylor (pictured) has taken over as CEO from founder Mark Roberts.

Read the full report