BGF has experienced a year of growth across its South West portfolio in 2019, having invested £165m to date to support the region’s most ambitious entrepreneurs. This includes new investments in Equilaw and Off-Piste Wines.
With Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) criteria high on the agenda, 2019 saw Exeter-based Lightfoot, the connected car technology company, endorsed by The University of Bath for its reduction of CO2, NOx and particulate emissions by 10-20%. Described as the ‘Fitbit for cars’ and backed by BGF in 2018, Lightfoot incentivises smooth driving practices by rewarding drivers with prizes and discounts, in turn reducing the environmental impact of driving inefficiently.
Further 2019 success was enjoyed by Cheltenham-based beauty brand innovator SLG. The business, backed by BGF since 2015, announced the acquisition of three high street brands – Amie Naturally Kind Skincare, Johnny’s Chop Shop Grooming and COLAB Dry Shampoo – amounting to a consideration of over £15m. Direct Online Services, the UK’s largest online retailer of kitchen worktops, also announced a record year of profits, alongside a £5m internal investment plan. The Gloucester-based, business reported a 150% increase in profits and an expected EBITDA of £4m in 2019, a result of margin and productivity improvements. The company has also announced an internal investment plan, consisting of a new building to increase capacity and investment in machinery to fulfil orders even more efficiently.
In addition, Hydrock and Molson received significant further investments from BGF this year to make acquisitions. These companies were initially backed in 2018 and expanded rapidly during 2019. BGF has itself continued its expansion in the South West in 2019, investing £37m across new investments and follow-on funding, bringing its total investment to date in the region to £165m. Equilaw, the UK’s only dedicated equity release legal adviser, received investment in February to support its business growth plan.
This month, BGF invested £8m in Off-Piste Wines to expand its product range and grow internationally.
Ned Dorbin, head of BGF’s Bristol team, said: “2019 has been a fantastic year for BGF in the South West. We provide the funding and support to help businesses accelerate, investing in entrepreneurs so they can innovate, make, create, sell, explore new ideas, consider new markets and push boundaries. “Our portfolio is growing, despite the wider economic uncertainty. We’ve seen examples of great resilience and ambition as small and medium sized businesses forge ahead of go for growth. 2020 will be a year of much more acceleration – we’re excited about food and drink businesses that think differently, manufacturing companies helping to innovate, as well as those helping to push the environmental, social and governance agenda. It’s more important than ever that companies with a sustainable, long-term business and market opportunity get the support they need.”