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BGF reports year of growth in Northern Ireland

BGF has reported a standout year in 2022, having invested £20 million in the Northern Irish market and completed the first exit of an investee business. This takes the total amount invested in Northern Ireland to close to £70 million since BGF opened its Belfast office in 2015.

In total, BGF has backed eight companies across the region over the last seven years, with several companies also receiving follow-on investments to facilitate further growth. Notable investees include waste management and recycling company RiverRidge, coffee shop chain Bob & Berts, and software developer AuditComply.

In 2022, BGF completed a £10 million follow-on investment into Lisburn-based blind manufacturer, Mzuri to support its ambitious growth plans and future acquisitions. The company has undertaken a series of acquisitions in the past 24 months which has helped grow its revenues to over £200 million. The business now employs over 1,500 staff across Northern Ireland.

Towards the close of last year, BGF also invested £5 million in Ballymena-based façade specialists, Clarke Group, to facilitate further expansion in the UK and Irish markets. The family-owned business recently opened a large new head office and adjoined manufacturing facility to support innovation and allow it to capitalise on the fast growth façade market.

The year was also marked by BGF’s first exit of a Northern Ireland company, following the sale of market-leading kitchen door and component manufacturer, Uform, to private equity group Cardinal Ireland Partners.

The exit generated a money multiple of 2.2x on BGF’s initial investment with an IRR of 25%. As part of the deal, BGF re-invested alongside Cardinal and will continue to back the company as a minority shareholder.

We were delighted to expand our portfolio with the addition of Clarke and to complete our first significant realisation in Northern Ireland from Uform. BGF was set up to back brilliant businesses that are looking to scale and that is exactly what Uform has done.

Patrick Graham, Head of Northern Ireland and Scotland at BGF

Other developments in 2022 saw BGF portfolio company Bob & Berts open a new site in Cookstown, plus new stores in Perth in Scotland and in Carlisle and Bury in England, taking total store numbers to over 25.

Graham added: “2022 has seen excellent trading performance from our portfolio companies, which is a testament to the management teams that we’ve backed and it’s great to see the businesses, such as Mzuri and Bob & Bert’s grow and scale into new markets. Our Northern Ireland portfolio continues to grow and develop, and we’re pleased to have our investor, Chris Nixon based locally to develop these relationships and help to drive their growth.

“As we look ahead, BGF will still be seeking to support more businesses and fuel growth in the region despite the challenging economic landscape. We are confident that 2023 will be another positive year with further new investments to announce and more successful realisations as companies continue to mature.”

Since inception in 2011, BGF has provided £3 billion to more than 500 companies. Across the UK and Ireland, BGF delivered 45 new investments totalling £443 million in 2022. The firm also recorded a record exit volume and value: realising 40 investments, delivering over £675 million, and achieving a 2x MM and 22.5% IRR.

BGF has a strong pipeline of opportunities going into 2023, as it continues to fund promising and diverse businesses with capital throughout the economic cycle.

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