A leading private equity firm investing in Europe

Pan-Asian restaurant chain

A leading private equity firm investing in Europe

Online travel agency

A leading private equity firm investing in Europe

Manufactures and distributes medical devices

A leading private equity firm investing in Europe

Plant hire business

A leading private equity firm investing in Europe

Pioneering UK value retailer

A leading private equity firm investing in Europe

Specialist provider of healthcare services

We invest in Western European mid-market companies

Duke Street Private Equity has been investing in mature, mid-market West European businesses for over twenty years, concentrating our investment strategy on four sectors: Consumer, Healthcare, Industrials & Engineering and Services. Typically we invest in companies with an enterprise value of between £50m - £250m. Our strategy is based on our ability to identify unique opportunities and add value to each business we acquire. We aim to transform the prospects of the companies that we invest in.

Origination beyond the obvious

We focus our efforts on transactions developed on an exclusive basis. We actively seek complex deals which other investors may avoid if we think they have underlying growth potential.

Value creation

Our mission is to accelerate the growth of the companies that we buy. We help our companies grow both organically and through acquisition.

Supportive Structure

We have developed a robust approach to building relationships between ourselves, the CEOs of our portfolio businesses and our Operating Partners.

Sector focus

We believe sector knowledge is critical, which is why we have dedicated teams focusing on our four core sectors. This, alongside the deep industry experience of our Operating Partners, has allowed us to create a proven track record of successfully building companies.

We invest in companies with strong brands serving consumers across multiple channels

We have extensive experience in the consumer sector: in restaurants with wagamama, in the gaming sector through our investment in companies such as Gala Bingo, Sporting Index and Leisure Link. In leisure, we have invested successfully in both niche hotel operators and fitness and leisure businesses. Two of our investments in particular – SandpiperCI and The Original Factory Shop – display our willingness to back retail management teams with ambitious growth plans, even at a time when the sector as a whole was experiencing tough trading.

We also have a wealth of experience of working with management teams in consumer branded products. At Simple, we backed an ambitious growth plan for the business to become the UK’s leading skin care provider by volume, overtaking companies such as Nivea and L’Oreal in the process.

See our Portfolio for a more in-depth analysis of these and further Consumer investments.

Duke Street is a long-term investor in the healthcare space, making our first investment in 1997

Since then we have deployed c. €700m in the sector, backing great management teams to deliver transformational business plans.

We believe the sector to be structurally attractive: it is defensive and benefits from significant barriers to entry due to the complexity of the products and services involved.

We also believe that it lends itself well to our investment strategy. Europe is home to a large number of strong management teams, and high value-added businesses which deliver outstanding patient outcomes. Such businesses typically offer multiple routes to value creation. Even the most mature sub-sectors remain fragmented and so there is significant potential for buy and build.

Please see our Portfolio for a more in-depth analysis of our past and present Healthcare investments.

We cover a broad range of Industrials sub-sectors with a particular focus on aerospace & defence, engineering, manufacturing & security

We look to invest in companies with differentiated product or process IP, operating in attractive end-markets, with scope to affect operational transformation through inter alia, a build-up in specific niches, technological changes, or product / geographic diversification.

We back management teams with a clear strategic vision as well as a strong operational focus; and our in-depth understanding of the sector means we are well-placed to work in partnership with such teams.

Our investments in this sector include Deloro Stellite, the specialist engineering group, and filtration solutions provider Madison Filter. See our Portfolio for a more in-depth analysis of these and further investments.

We invest in services businesses with the potential for operational improvement and rapid growth

The services sector encompasses a wide range of sub-sectors, each subject to its own dynamics but often with outsourcing as a key driver. We identify macro trends that will drive above average market growth, and then back businesses providing value added skills and products to their customers in those markets. We are particularly attracted where there is the potential for operational improvement as well as organic growth. We partner with best-in-class management teams providing support, capital and expertise where this is required and materially adds value.

We have considerable experience in the sector, complemented by a large network of industry contacts. Investments we have made in this sector include Ardent Hire Solutions, a heavy equipment hire business, Payzone, a consumer payments business, and the specialist pensions group Xafinity. See our Portfolio for a more in-depth analysis of these and further Services investments.

Our Portfolio

Simple

SECTOR: Consumer

Leading health & beauty business

We backed a great management team at Simple (formerly Accantia), an excellent business which initially had two very strong brands that were competing for investment and attention. Over the course of our investment we disposed of one of the brands, concentrating on Simple which moved from being the number three to the number one female facial skin care brand in the UK¹. We redeveloped the business to become a focused sales and marketing-led operation and the Simple brand doubled market share during our ownership

The Acquisition

Accantia comprised principally of two major consumer goods brands, Simple and Lil-lets. Simple was a leading health and beauty brand in the UK specialising in sensitive skin, and Lil-lets was a major feminine hygiene brand. We acquired Accantia in a secondary buy-out from ABN Amro Capital in early 2004. Accantia was originally owned by Smith & Nephew.

Needing to act fast

Having identified Accantia as an attractive potential secondary buy out, we approached ABN Amro directly. From the start we worked with Operating Partner John Robinson, a former CEO of Smith & Nephew who knew Accantia well and had followed the careers of CEO Geoff Percy and FD Peter Hatherly closely.

One of the options available to ABN Amro Capital was to take money out through a recapitalisation. It was therefore vital that we could get the deal signed quickly. Thanks to John Robinson’s involvement, we were able to exchange within a tight timeframe, acquiring the company in a bilateral deal and avoiding an auction. John’s expertise also played a key role in helping us to feel comfortable about the sector and the business itself.

We worked closely with the Bank of Scotland to structure a highly attractive debt package, based largely on Accantia’s complementary mix of businesses.

Concentrating on growing the Simple brand

We soon realised there was moderate synergistic benefit in managing both brands and more to go for with the Simple brand. In December 2006, we disposed of the Lil-lets brand to Electra Partners in an £80 million deal to concentrate solely on the Simple brand. The strong product development and marketing skills of the Simple management team ensured the brand’s continued growth. With a strong heritage in soap and cleansing, the Simple brand gradually expanded into moisturisers, baby and shower products.

Under our ownership Simple’s net sales grew at 15 percent per year. The introduction of a broad range of new products, helped increase the number of consumers by 50% in 2 years. On exit, Simple was the number one female facial skincare brand in the UK¹.

Exit

At exit, Simple received significant interest from trade companies looking for a footprint in the UK value skincare category. We sold Simple to US beauty business, Alberto Culver, in December 2009, completing the deal in under one week from final offers.

¹ IRI, by units sold

Our Team

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Investors

Duke Street has invested £2.4bn and realized £3.7bn since 1994, and currently manages over £500m AUM. Our model ensures maximum alignment between investors and management teams and provides flexibility as well as certainty of funding. Fundraising is aligned with our own internal investment committee process, ensuring timely execution.



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Contact

Duke Street

Nations House,
103 Wigmore Street,
London W1U 1QS

Tel: +44 (0)20 7663 8500
Fax: +44 (0)20 7663 8501

Email us

mail@dukestreet.com

You can use the email address above, or write to us for additional security. Enquiries will of course be treated in strictest confidence from time of receipt but we cannot guarantee the security of email (or other) communications with us.