At Duke Street Private Equity, we have been investing in mature, mid-market Western European businesses for over twenty years. Our investment strategy is concentrated on four sectors: Consumer, Healthcare, Industrials & Engineering and Services. Typically we invest in companies with an enterprise value of between £50m - £350m. 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.
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.
Our mission is to accelerate the growth of the companies that we buy. We help our companies grow both organically and through acquisition.
We have developed a robust approach to building relationships between ourselves, the CEOs of our portfolio businesses and our Operating Partners.
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.
"At Duke Street we have always adopted a flexible and innovative approach whether raising money or investing and then transforming our companies"Paul Adams
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.
"By funding each investment on a bespoke basis from our club of investors, it ensures the maximum alignment of all parties"James Almond
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 actively seek out businesses in need of operational change. We are passionate about improving the companies we invest in"Stuart McMinnies
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.
"Our carefully targeted origination effort generally leads to transactions closed outside of competitive processes, allowing informed interaction with our companies to drive constructive change programmes"Charlie Troup
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.
Xafinity was acquired for £115m in July 2005 and is a good example of Duke Street’s approach to post-investment transformation. The high number of medium-sized players in this sector made a Buy and Build strategy an attractive proposition. But a stable position in an attractive sector was not enough. Xafinity needed material change if it was to reach its full potential and attract a full price at exit.
We started looking at the pensions and benefits market in early 2004 and identified an increasing demand for high-quality specialist services. When Xafinity was initially put up for sale in late 2004, it went through a difficult auction process and failed to attract significant interest from strategic buyers. Our knowledge of the market meant we were in a prime position to acquire the company.
Xafinity, formerly Hogg Robinson’s Benefit and Consultancy Services division, is made up of three businesses: Xafinity Consulting is a pensions consultancy business; Xafinity Paymaster has a strong position in private and public sector outsourcing; and Xafinity Claybrook is the market-leading provider of pension administration software.
The businesses offered a sound base from which to capitalise on the opportunities offered by the pensions and benefits market. Ongoing pension deficits, the proposed National Pensions Savings Scheme and regulatory and legislative changes all pointed to strong growth potential in this sector.
To steer the transformation, we appointed a new CEO, Tim Robinson, and Alasdair Marnoch as FD. Tim was formerly MD of the Security Division and a member of the Thales Group’s Executive Board. Alasdair was previously FD of Jarvis plc and Dunlop Slazenger Group. We appointed Richard Stephenson as Chairman, one of the DS Operating Partners. We also recruited Sir Nicholas Montagu, an industry expert as NXD. Sir Nicholas was the last Chairman of Inland Revenue and prior to that had held a number of other senior positions in the Civil Service under both Labour and Conservative Governments.
We worked closely with the senior team to strengthen management, develop and support an acquisition strategy and make the business more attractive to potential buyers.
Having been run as three separate businesses in its former parent company, there were opportunities to make operational improvements at Xafinity. We also capitalised on other opportunities, including better cross-selling between the three businesses, a more aggressive approach to acquiring new customers, and service improvements.
To support our ambitious growth plans we increased the level of capital investment across the Group substantially. Efficient cash management, a property sale and lease back and the successful sale of the Remedi healthcare business in December 2006 led to an early repayment of bank debt and loan stock. By off-shoring selected processing operations we were also able to reduce the company’s cost base and enhance its competitive offering.
In April 2008, we supported Xafinity’s acquisition of a key competitor, Hazell Carr. The acquisition provided Xafinity with a complementary set of business activities, combining areas of focus which integrated well into Xafinity and additional activities (such as complaints handling) which extended the Group’s service offering. The acquisition also established the company as a consolidator within its industry.
We sold Xafinity to Advent International in February 2010.
The Duke Street investor base comprises traditional funds and pools of committed capital alongside co-investment mandates from high quality investors, which include Fund of Funds, Pension Funds, Insurance Companies and Family Offices amongst others. Our investors are long-term supporters of the private equity model and are located across the globe with substantial support from North America and Europe.
Duke Street has invested over €2.5bn in more than 50 companies over the last 25 years and has achieved strong returns in excess of 20% IRR throughout the cycle. Duke Street adopted a deal-by-deal funding strategy in 2012, subsequently raising committed capital to invest alongside its co-investment mandates. Duke Street itself invests substantially in each deal ensuring maximum alignment between Duke Street, its investors and management teams.
10 Nov 2020
Following the suspension of its cruises, A-Rosa River Cruises has donated all the unused perishable goods from its Rhine ships to a charity in Cologne. The charity was pleased to accept the donation and the crew assisted the volunteers who came to collect the goods.
Jorg Eichler, A-Rosa chief executive, said: “We fully support the government’s measures aimed at reducing infection rates and wanted to ensure that, despite the sudden nature with which we had to stop our cruises, the food on board our ships did not go to waste.
“Cologne Tafel is a well-known charity in our Rhine fleet’s home port city of Cologne that supports the local community and we were really pleased that we were able to give something back to those in need in these challenging times.”
15 Sep 2020
A-ROSA AQUA and A-ROSA BRAVA underwent rigorous assessment, achieving particularly high scores in the safety and environmental protection categories. With a strong focus on sustainability across its entire fleet, the shipping company is hopeful that further ships will qualify for the award in the near future.
Established in 1994, on a voluntary basis, the Green Award program encourages cleaner and safer maritime shipping. Since its inauguration, several ships and shipping companies from across the world achieved Green Award certification in the areas of quality, safety and the environment. Effective 2011, the Green Award foundation developed a program for inland shipping, which has been a great success to date and is very popular with inland shipping companies. Criteria such as shore power connections and environmentally friendly wastewater treatment systems are considered to be of particular importance.
The certification of its fleet is a core component of A-ROSA’s comprehensive sustainability strategy. The general reduction of resource consumption, further development of efficient energies and sustainable development of visited destinations’ infrastructure are other elements of the cruise line’s strategy.
15 Sep 2020
Ardent is today leading the plant hire industry by announcing an innovative carbon offsetting programme. In partnership with ClimateCare, the expert at financing, managing and developing climate projects, Ardent is offering a not-for-profit carbon offsetting service to its customers. For just a few pounds extra a week, customers can offset their greenhouse gas emissions and make their hires carbon neutral. Carbon charges are displayed separately to hire charges on invoices and funds are used to offset emissions with carbon credits from Gold Standard projects that are independently verified for their carbon reduction volumes.
As an extra first step, Ardent has paid to offset the 3,600 tonnes of CO2 produced annually by its 55 HGVs, meaning that all customer deliveries and collections are carbon neutral up to the end of April 2021.
Electric machines and alternative fuels, such as hydrogen, will undoubtedly substitute diesel machines at some point in the future, but due to a number of factors, including capital cost, power limitations and access to charging, this shift is currently not possible. In the meantime, while we wait for the right technologies to become a reality, we must take responsibility for our unavoidable emissions today.
Jeremy Fish, CEO said, “I want customers to know that we are totally committed to helping our industry reduce its carbon footprint. Carbon offsetting is a practical, affordable solution for making hires carbon neutral, that can be acted upon today. The investment we have made in offsetting the emissions from our HGV fleet shows our concern and determination to make a difference.”
Robert Stevens, Director of Partnerships at ClimateCare, said, “Clearly, Ardent’s innovative approach is taking a lead in the plant hire sector and we are delighted to be working with them on this very important initiative. Our trademark Climate+Care approach helps organisations take a smart approach to addressing their environmental impacts by offsetting their carbon emissions through projects which also support sustainable development”.”
Jeremy adds, “Carbon offsetting is just one part of the equation. We are equally passionate about carbon reduction. Users of our multi-award-winning Site Manager, which now has over 1,000 users, will already have already seen how they can reduce their carbon emissions and save money at the same time.”
5 Dec 2019
Duke Street is delighted to announce that its portfolio company Great Rail Journeys won Best Escorted Tour Operator at the News International Travel Awards, which was voted for by The Times and The Sunday Times readers. This is another accolade to add to the many awards received over the years for continuing to provide wonderful, first class holidays by rail to over 50 countries globally.
14 Nov 2019
Duke Street congratulates our portfolio company Voyage Care on winning The Specialist Care Provider of the Year 2019 at the Laing Buisson awards. Voyage Care is the UK’s leading provider of support for people with learning difficulties and associated physical disabilities, autistic spectrum disorders, acquired brain injury and other complex needs.
14 Aug 2019
Duke Street, the leading European midmarket private equity group, announces that Great Rail Journeys, acquired by Duke Street in July 2018, has agreed to acquire Vacations By Rail, the largest independent US based provider of escorted and independent rail holidays. VBR’s founder and management team will reinvest as part of the transaction and will obtain a minority stake in the enlarged company. The value of the transaction was not disclosed.
York based Great Rail Journeys offers almost 400 itineraries to over 50 countries globally. Over the last five years GRJ has performed strongly, tapping into new source markets for its rail tours including Australia and more recently the US. In 2018 the business launched a highly differentiated premium river cruise offering which builds upon very strong pre-existing demand for such holidays from within its customer database.
Established in 2004, Vacations By Rail offers US customers the largest selection of independent rail vacations, escorted rail tours, luxury rail journeys and custom train vacations to destinations in North America, Europe and beyond. Major destination areas in the US include the Rockies and West (National Parks), the Pacific Northwest and Alaska as well as New England. Canadian destinations include Western Canada, Quebec and the Maritime Provinces, as well as iconic cross-Canada rail routes.
The two companies already enjoy a commercial relationship, with VBR marketing a number of GRJ tours to its North American customer base, and this acquisition offers the opportunity to build on existing synergies. The combination of VBR with GRJ is a compelling proposition: it accelerates strategic growth ambitions for both companies, drives operational synergies and brings together a highly desirable and complementary blend of skills and expertise across marketing, product and technology.
Peter Liney, CEO of Great Rail Journeys, said:
“We have enjoyed for some time a very good working relationship with Todd, Cole and the team at Vacations By Rail. We know they are first class operators and have built an enviable position in North America as the leading independent and escorted provider of holidays by rail. I am delighted to welcome them to Great Rail Journeys and I look forward to working closely with them and their senior team. The combination of our two companies, supported by the corresponding skills and expertise of our two organisations, will greatly increase the choice and enhance the global travel experience for all our customers.”
Todd Powell, Co-founder of Vacations By Rail, said:
“We are delighted to be growing our partnership with GRJ, building on our strong working relationship to date. The combination of our two companies represents a significant opportunity to grow our footprint in the rail vacation sector domestically and internationally, as well as accelerate into new markets. We look forward to formally becoming part of the GRJ family.”
The transaction was supported by financing from Barings, GRJ’s existing term debt lender.
24 Jul 2019
2018 was a very active year for Duke Street with three new investments with a combined enterprise value of £325m and a successful exit.
5 Jun 2019
Duke Street, the leading European midmarket private equity group, announces that it has agreed to acquire Kent Pharmaceuticals and Athlone Laboratories (“Kent” or the “Group”), manufacturers and distributors of specialist off-patent/generic pharmaceuticals with locations in both the UK and Ireland. Kent is currently owned by DCC Vital. *
Kent is a UK market leader in several niche products in the large, growing and non-cyclical market for generic pharmaceuticals, selling primarily to the hospital and pharmacy wholesaler channels. Its portfolio of products is diversified across multiple therapeutic areas, with particular strengths in analgesics, anti-infectives and penicillins. Kent portfolio contains mainly niche, value-added products, which are complex to manufacture. A strong pipeline of new product development opportunities has already been put in place by the management. Athlone Laboratories is a leading European manufacturer of specialist beta-lactum antibiotics based in Ireland.
Duke Street is backing a strong management team at Kent, led by Chief Executive Debashis Dasgupta, who joined DCC Vital two years ago, bringing strong international experience in the Pharmaceutical Industry with previous senior leadership positions in Sanofi and Ranbaxy. Debashis and his leadership team have developed a compelling growth proposition for Kent & Athlone, which aligns with Duke Street’s vision for the opportunities presented in the sector. Duke Street’s strategy will focus on new product development and expansion into other selected branded generic markets across the EMEA region, building further on the highly diversified and scaled specialist generics business it is today. Kevin James, an experienced generics CEO/Chairman, will contribute a strong combination of skills and experience as non-Executive Chairman.
Charlie Troup, Managing Partner at Duke Street, commented:
“We are very pleased to acquire Kent, a market-leading business that we believe represents a significant opportunity for Duke Street and our investors. Pharma carve-outs is a focus thesis area for Duke Street and our investment in Kent represents a classic Duke Street deal: a complex carve-out transaction, backing a talented management team to implement a focussed growth strategy, driven by investment. The transaction and the opportunity are similar to Baywater Healthcare which we carved out from a USA multinational and exited to trade buyers in 2017. Debashis and his leadership team have developed a compelling growth plan for the business. We look forward to working closely with him to support and deliver that plan, alongside Kevin James as Chairman.”
Debashis Dasgupta, CEO, commented:
“We are thrilled to be partnering with Duke Street. Charlie Troup and his Partners have recognised our ambition for this business. Together with Kevin James, we have the right blend of experience, ability and vision to accelerate our growth by expanding our reach and providing high quality generic medicines for meeting patient’s daily needs. After a number of years within the supportive framework of DCC Vital, the business is poised for this exciting next stage of its evolution as a focussed and independent entity with Duke Street’s backing.”
The acquisition of Kent is the third new investment by Duke Street in the last 18 months, following the acquisition of Great Rail Journeys, the world’s leading provider of escorted rail holidays in July 2018; and A-ROSA, the German premium river cruise operator in February 2018.
* The transaction is subject to usual consents and conditions
20 Dec 2018
Around 4,000 staff will share in a £4m bonus pot as part of a payout ordered by the outgoing chief executive, Jane Holbrook, and Duke Street.
30 Oct 2018
Duke Street has agreed to sell Wagamama to The Restaurant Group plc, one of the UK's largest independent restaurant groups, which is listed on the London Stock Exchange. Duke Street will sell Wagamama for an enterprise value of £559 million, generating a 3.4x money multiple for the firm.
Wagamama was established in London’s Bloomsbury in 1992 and is based in the United Kingdom. Wagamama operates popular, award-winning noodle restaurants and offers fresh, pan-Asian cuisine in a friendly, vibrant setting. The menu features a wide variety of noodle and rice dishes, as well as salads and side dishes, juices, hot drinks, wine, sake and Asian beers. Many Wagamama signature dishes can be found in all of the Group’s restaurants across the globe and the restaurants also have local specialties that take advantage of regional produce and tastes.
Duke Street acquired Wagamama in 2011 for £215 million when the Group had 70 restaurants. Since 2011 Duke Street has worked closely with Wagamama’s management team to transform the business. Wagamama now has 133 restaurants in the UK, almost double the number since Duke Street first invested, 5 outlets in the USA (across Boston, Massachusetts and New York City) and 58 franchise restaurants operating in 23 markets spread across Western Europe, Eastern Europe, the Middle East and New Zealand.
Wagamama continues to trade very strongly and is the outstanding performer in the UK casual dining sector. The Company has demonstrated a strong track record of like-for-like revenue growth with 228 consecutive weeks of positive performance. Over this period, the annual like-for-like growth was 9.6%, and on average 8.5% ahead of the market, as measured by the Coffer-Peach tracker. Wagamama generated revenue of £307m and EBITDA of £43m post pre-opening costs in the twelve months to 19 August 2018. Wagamama delivered a 17% UK revenue CAGR (compound annual growth rate) between FY 2015 and FY 2018.
Peter Taylor, Managing Partner at Duke Street, commented:
“We are very proud to announce the sale of Wagamama to The Restaurant Group. This is one of the largest ever transactions in the UK casual dining space, a market which has been challenging in recent years. Duke Street has supported an outstanding management team under Jane Holbrook’s leadership to transform the company and ensure that Wagamama has emerged as the standout success story of the UK casual dining sector.
“Our investment in Wagamama represents a classic Duke Street deal: a complex transaction that we delivered in 2011 outside an auction process; working with management to grow the business swiftly and successfully during our period of ownership; adding international expansion and a popular delivery function; and securing an exit to trade, taking Duke Street’s recent record to ten trade sales out of our last twelve exits. These are exciting times for the firm: our recently enhanced investment team is delivering a strong pipeline of attractive opportunities for our investors and partners.”
Jane Holbrook, CEO of Wagamama, commented:
“Wagamama has enjoyed a very strong track record both financially and operationally, driven by the ongoing successful execution of our growth strategy. Duke Street has been hugely supportive, investing heavily in the key resources to drive our position as the UK’s leading casual dining chain, while also helping us take the business and the brand to a growing international customer base.”
The sale of Wagamama follows recent successful exits by Duke Street from its investments in Baywater Healthcare UK and LM Funerals. The exit from Baywater generated a total cash return of more than 5x for Duke Street and the sale of its stake in LM Funerals generated a return of 2.6x.
In the last 12 months the firm has made three new investments, acquiring Great Rail Journeys, the world’s leading provider of escorted rail holidays in July 2018; acquiring A-ROSA, the German upmarket river cruise operator in February 2018; and buying a controlling interest in TeamSport Karting, the UK’s largest indoor go-karting operator, in October 2017.
On this transaction Goldman Sachs International acted as sole financial advisor to Wagamama and Duke Street; Latham and Watkins provided legal advice, exclusively.
2 Jul 2018
Duke Street, the UK based mid-market private equity firm, has acquired Great Rail Journeys (‘GRJ’), the world’s leading provider of escorted rail holidays, from ECI. The terms of the transaction have not been disclosed.
York based Great Rail Journeys offers almost 400 itineraries to over 50 countries globally. GRJ caters for a growing demographic group of culturally interested 55+ year old travellers who typically prioritise travel spend within their household budgets. Popular itineraries include a tour of India’s “Golden Triangle”, exploring the Swiss Alps on the Glacier Express and an iconic journey across Africa from Dar es Salaam to Cape Town. Last year, over 50,000 customers enjoyed a GRJ holiday and the Company is proud that over half of its business each year comes from its database.
Over the last five years GRJ has performed strongly, tapping into new source markets for its rail tours including Australia and more recently the US, following the establishment of an office in New York in 2017. The business has also just launched, for summer 2019, a unique and highly differentiated rail based premium river cruise offering which builds upon very strong pre-existing demand for such holidays from within its customer database.
Duke Street plans to support the existing management team, led by Peter Liney, to develop the business’ rail and cruise offerings further, both in the UK and internationally, building on their significant experience in the leisure sector. Following the acquisition, Charles Gurassa will be appointed as Chairman. As well as extensive experience of the travel sector gathered during his executive career, Charles’ current non-Executive board roles include Chairman of Channel 4, Deputy Chairman of Easyjet and Senior Independent Director at Merlin Entertainments.
Tom Salmon, Partner at Duke Street, said:
“Our experience of backing market leaders in growing segments of the European leisure sector makes Great Rail Journeys a very exciting investment proposition. It is an outstanding business which delivers very high quality service to its clients. Having known Peter Liney for a number of years, we are looking forward to working with him, Charles Gurassa and the wider team to continue to grow the business both in the UK and internationally.”
Peter Liney, CEO of Great Rail Journeys, said:
“We are delighted to be partnering with Duke Street. The team very quickly demonstrated a clear understanding of our business, and their experience both of growing businesses in the US and of river cruising was highly attractive to us. After five great years of working with ECI, who have helped us to internationalise the business, add new product lines, grow our profits and develop our management team, we are very excited to embark on the next chapter of our story with Duke Street.”
21 May 2018
Duke Street partner James Almond has been featured by Financial News in the magazine’s annual review of the 25 men and women under the age of 40 who stand out in the European private equity industry.
James joined Duke Street in 2015 and is responsible for fundraising, running the co-investment programme and investor relations.
Beyond his role at Duke Street, James is active in voluntary work both relating to private equity and in creating greater value for charities and social enterprise. He is a Guest Lecturer in Private Equity at the London Business School and a Senior Advisor to the Charities Aid Foundation.
14 Mar 2018
2017 was a very active year for Duke Street with two new funds of committed capital, two exciting new investments and three successful exits.
8 Mar 2018
Ardent Hire Solutions has been awarded FORS Gold status by the Fleet Operator Recognition Scheme – the highest grade achievable for fleet operators.
The Fleet Operator Recognition Scheme encompasses all aspects of safety, fuel efficiency, economical operations and vehicle emissions and contributes to improving sustainability and corporate social responsibility practices in the sector.
Commenting on the importance of FORS to Ardent, the group’s Safety, Health Environment and Quality (SHEQ) Director, Garry Orr, said:
“Ardent embarked on its FORS journey in 2011, after seeing the growing need to improve Health and Safety within the construction industry. We became Bronze certified in May 2011 and quickly realised that the certification was worthwhile in helping us improve our H&S targets. We noticed the value delivered from having rigorous and robust transport management, quality and compliance, policy and procedures.
“We are committed to providing a safe working environment for all our employees and the FORS toolkits have helped us achieve this. We believe that one of the most important factors is upskilling our drivers by giving up to date, relevant training. As a result we have improved driver retention. Today our drivers are much more aware of the emphasis our business places on their safety.
“Over the last 12 months we have implemented a rigorous programme of vehicle replacement with Euro VI engines to reduce emissions. In addition, our transport units are fitted with reverse cameras, monitors in the cab, side scanners and white noise indicators as standard. All of these features help us improve H&S and increase public safety. Together with Driver Toolbox Talks (TBTs) we have seen significant reductions in incidents and Penalty Charge Notices (PCNs).
“We have been promoting FORS to all our hauliers and have introduced Silver standard as a minimum requirement for them being a part of our supply chain.
“We believe the FORS Gold standard clearly shows to all our peers and clients our stance regarding road safety not only in the workplace but also by promoting further training for our drivers to recognise them from being an HGV driver to an HGV professional.”
7 Mar 2018
Duke Street, the midmarket private equity group, is pleased to announce two key appointments.
Duke Street, the midmarket private equity group, is pleased to announce two key appointments.
Tom Salmon joins as a Partner having spent 13 years at 3i, the international private equity and infrastructure investor.
At 3i, Tom was a Partner with responsibility for the group’s activity in the Consumer sector in the UK. He led 3i’s investment in Audley Travel, where he was also a non-executive Director, and represented the group on the Board of Hobbs, the women’s fashion group. In addition, Tom has considerable investment experience in the Services sector, having played a key role in deals including JMJ and NCP. Previously, Tom spent a year on secondment in Madrid with responsibility for a number of 3i’s investments in Spain.
Tom is a qualified Chartered Accountant and has a first class honours degree in Modern History from Oxford University.
Hugo Strachan joins as an Investment Manager, responsible for executing transactions and supporting deal origination in the Business Services and Healthcare sectors. Hugo previously worked at RJD Partners, a UK private equity fund, where he worked on management buyouts across a range of sectors including Business Services, Leisure and Education. Prior to RJD, Hugo worked in the Strategy team at PwC, providing due diligence to private equity, venture capital and corporate clients.
Hugo is a qualified Chartered Accountant and has a degree in Finance from Newcastle University.
Welcoming Tom and Hugo to Duke Street, Peter Taylor, Managing Partner, said:
“These are important appointments for Duke Street, strengthening our expertise in three key sectors for our group. Our pipeline of potential investments is very strong and we look forward to working with Tom and Hugo to progress the best of those deals.”
2 Mar 2018
Casual dining may be in the doldrums yet while the likes of Jamie’s Italian, Byron and Prezzo undergo painful restructurings and closures, wagamama is bucking the trend.
While most of its rivals are losing sales, the noodle bar chain yesterday reported an 8.2 per cent jump in its UK like-for-like sales in the third quarter, an acceleration on the 7.1 per cent growth seen in the second quarter.
Its total turnover rose by 12.5 per cent to £72.1 million in the three months to January 28, lifting revenues for the first 40 weeks of its financial year to £229.5 million, up 13.5 per cent. Underlying earnings for the year to date are up 0.9 per cent to £35.1 million amid supply chain and wage cost increases and it made a loss after interest, tax and refinancing costs of £6.6 million.
The group, backed by Duke Street and Hutton Collins, has opened six UK restaurants and two in America this year while adding eight new overseas franchises, including three in Madrid. It has 185 restaurants, of which 129 are in the UK.
Jane Holbrook, chief executive, said the group had “continued to trade ahead of the competition consistently for more than three years” amid continuing investment in staff and innovation such as its new vegan menu.
1 Mar 2018
German river cruise line A-Rosa reported a 6% increase in revenue to £77.1 million for 2017. The operator revealed on Tuesday that all global markets were performing well and reported an increase in both operating profit and revenue for the fourth year running.
Lucia Rowe, head of A-Rosa UK, said the line’s revenue for the year so far was up 20% up compared to the same time last year. A-Rosa’s 2017 figures were released as the Federal Cartel Office in Germany approved its acquisition by British investors Duke Street. Duke Street agreed the acquisition from Waterland Private Equity in January.
Rowe said: “2017 was a great year for A-Rosa globally with many contributing factors, including our new route on the Seine which has proved a popular choice and the increasing demand from customers to see more whilst away.
“Sales for 2018 have started well and we are already 20% up on where we were this time last year.
“We remain totally committed to working only with our trade partners and agents and it is going to be an exciting year.”
More than 85,000 passengers were carried on board A-Rosa river cruises in 2017.
22 Feb 2018
Now in their third year, the Casual Dining Restaurant & Pub Awards are one of the highlights of the hospitality sector’s calendar. For the second time in as many years, wagamama has scooped the award for large multi-site restaurant brand of the year, which is judged on commercial success and overall excellence including innovation, staffing, design, marketing, menus and customer satisfaction.
wagamama continues to report strong performance including 196 consecutive weeks of market outperformance as determined by the industry’s Peach tracker and regularly tops the BrandVue monthly index for customer satisfaction.
In the last year wagamama also launched a vegan menu featuring 29 plant based dishes, opened an innovation test kitchen in Soho called ‘noodle lab’ and has pledged to remove all plastic straws and replace them with bio-degradable paper straws by Earth Day on 22nd April 2018.
16 Feb 2018
Duke Street investment Voyage Care is delighted to have been named as a finalist in not one, but two categories for the 2018 HealthInvestor awards.
Reaching the finals in the Specialist Provider and Community Based Support categories is recognition of the huge strides Voyage has taken in recent years to enhance its specialist provision and transform the way it delivers community based care and support services.
The prestigious HealthInvestor awards recognise excellence in the delivery of social care. Voyage was the winner in the Specialist Provider category in 2016 and a finalist in 2017.
This year’s winners will be announced on 13 June.
12 Jan 2018
Duke Street, the midmarket private equity group, has sold its controlling investment in Baywater Healthcare UK to Bastide Group, a specialist in the sale and rental of home medical equipment in France. The undisclosed consideration makes a total cash return of more than 5x cost for Duke Street and its co-investor, Souter Investments with the potential for further returns from an earnout based on future performance. The firm sold Baywater’s Irish operations to Air Liquide in August 2015.
Baywater delivers oxygen-therapy, sleep apnoea therapy and non-invasive ventilation therapy services to patients in the home. It is the only independent company serving the UK market, alongside three major gas group subsidiaries. The business was acquired by Duke Street in November 2013 as part of Air Products’ Homecare operations in the UK and Ireland. The transaction was Duke Street’s second deal-by-deal financing.
The business currently employs 230 people and provides support to 26,000 patients. The sale to Bastide Group has been approved by the National Health Service.
Commenting on the sale, Charlie Troup, Managing Partner at Duke Street, said:
"Baywater has been a classic Duke Street investment in healthcare, a core sector for the firm. With the dual trends of an ageing population and an increasing need for the NHS to manage costs by providing patients with care at home, we have worked successfully with management to raise the quality of care, improve logistics, invest in stronger operational and logistics capabilities, thereby delivering significant growth in profitability. We wish Bastide Group every success with Baywater’s next phase of growth.”
Adam Sullivan CEO of Baywater commented:
“The four years we have spent with Duke Street and Souter have been exciting and rewarding – they have been demanding while constructive and supportive. I and my team are proud of the business we have built together - the strength of which has been recognised by Bastide.”
11 Jan 2018
Market leader for premium river cruises in Europe is firm’s second current investment in Germany. Duke Street, the mid-market private equity group, has agreed to acquire A-ROSA, the German upmarket river cruise operator, from Waterland Private Equity. The consideration has not been disclosed.
Market leader for premium river cruises in Europe is firm’s second current investment in Germany.
Duke Street, the mid-market private equity group, has agreed to acquire A-ROSA, the German upmarket river cruise operator, from Waterland Private Equity. The consideration has not been disclosed.
A-ROSA is a market leader in the premium segment for river cruises on Europe’s Danube, Rhine/Main/Moselle, Rhône/Saône and Seine rivers. The company was established in 2001 as a subsidiary of P&O Princess Cruises and was originally developed as the river cruise complement to AIDA ocean cruises. Based in the northern German city of Rostock and in Chur, Switzerland, A-ROSA has approximately 600 employees and operates a fleet of 11 high quality vessels. More than 85,000 passengers travelled on board A-ROSA cruises in 2017.
The company has, to date, enjoyed a very strong following in its German home market, as well as growing positions in other consumer markets, including the UK. Benefitting from a growing base of affluent older consumers, the river cruise segment performed strongly in the last economic downturn. The A-ROSA brand is highly regarded, with a modern, innovative river cruise fleet and exclusive agreements with key travel agencies. The high quality of on-board food and drink, cabin design and entertainment has encouraged significant levels of repeat bookings. The river cruise market is expected to benefit further from product development, loyalty-based marketing and a reduction in the average age of cruise holidaymakers.
Commenting on the A-ROSA investment, Charlie Troup, Duke Street Managing Partner, said:
“We have identified in A-ROSA an exciting opportunity to back the leader in a growing segment of the European leisure market. The management team, led by CEO Jörg Eichler and COO Markus Zoepke, has built a strong consumer proposition for seasoned cruise passengers and new cruisers alike. Waterland has helped the team since 2009 to develop an excellent platform for further growth and we are delighted to be part of the next phase of A-ROSA’s success.”
Jörg Eichler, CEO of A-ROSA, added:
“Duke Street moved very quickly in building a solid understanding of our business in a short space of time and have shown real determination to deliver a transaction that allows us to unlock the growth potential to take A-ROSA to the next level. We look forward to working together with the Duke Street team to develop and grow our business over the next years.”
Given the very strong ongoing consumer demand for the company’s offering, the opportunity exists for Duke Street both to expand A-ROSA’s fleet size and launch its product onto new rivers, while increasing its exposure to source markets outside Germany. Growing awareness of the convenience of visiting iconic European cities from a relaxed floating base is expected to sustain growth in the river cruise market and A-ROSA’s penetration of further key consumer economies on the continent.
The transaction is subject to approval by antitrust authorities.
The A-ROSA buyout increases Duke Street’s current portfolio in Germany to two investments made within two years. In March 2016 the group led a consortium to acquire Medi-Globe Corporation (Medi-Globe), a medical devices business focused on minimally invasive surgery in gastroenterology and urology.
10 Jan 2018
TeamSport, the UK’s leading indoor karting operator, acquired by Duke Street in October 2017, has been granted planning approval for two new tracks in the north of England.
The first will be a state of the art venue on the Walton Summit Industrial Estate in Bamber Bridge, Preston. A £1.2m projected build investment will deliver two multilevel circuits across three floors for up to 20 karters to race at any one time. Preston is expected to open in early summer.
The second, in Beckside Business Park close to Bradford’s city centre, will be TeamSport’s 26th centre in the UK. Again investing more than £1m in the development, the company promises a 580m multilevel circuit for up to 18 karters. Projected opening is also in early summer.
Dominic Gaynor, TeamSport Managing Director, said:
“We’re delighted to have received permission to open and are looking forward to welcoming residents and visitors to the new tracks.
“Our fantastic choice of race events and excellent value karting offers will ensure karting is accessible to everyone looking for an adrenaline fuelled, fun day out.”
30 Nov 2017
The casual dining sector may be suffering indigestion, but wagamama continues to deliver tasty results. In the six months to November, it reported an increase in UK like-for-like sales of 6.9 per cent after investment in “people, product and property”.
While most of its rivals struggled, wagamama’s like-for-like growth accelerated from 6.8 per cent in the first quarter to 7.1 per cent in the second. Underlying earnings before exceptionals grew by 2.2 per cent in the first half to £23.5 million, from turnover up 14 per cent to £157.4 million.
Jane Holbrook, the chief executive, said: “We remain relatively cautious about the immediate outlook.”
25 Nov 2017
Duke Street is pleased to announce the recognition of four key individuals, including two category winners, in one of the healthcare industry’s most respected annual reviews. Each year Health Investor magazine’s Power Fifty seeks to honour those who have the most influence in the UK’s independent health and social care market.
Duke Street is pleased to announce the recognition of four key individuals, including two category winners, in one of the healthcare industry’s most respected annual reviews.
Each year Health Investor magazine’s Power Fifty seeks to honour those who have the most influence in the UK’s independent health and social care market. The newly published 2017 list of movers and shakers includes:
Leading investors: Charlie Troup – Duke Street managing partner
Charlie joined Duke Street in 2006 and leads the firm’s investments in healthcare. His recent deals in the sector include Voyage Care, Baywater Healthcare and Medi-Globe Corporation.
Non-Executive Director: Douglas Quinn (voted first in NED category)
Most recently chairman of Baywater Healthcare and a former CEO of Duke Street portfolio company Voyage Care, Douglas has worked in health and social care for more than 30 years. He remains an operating partner of Duke Street and a NED of Voyage, as well as chairman of the NFA Group, the UK’s leading provider of specialist services for children.
Outstanding leaders: Andrew Cannon – CEO of Voyage Care
Andrew was appointed CEO of Voyage Care in August 2015. Voyage is the UK’s leading provider of residential care services for adults with learning disabilities. Supporting over 3,000 people, more than 95% of Voyage’s services are rated ‘Good’ or ‘Outstanding’ by the Care Quality Commission.
One to watch: Jayne Davey – COO of Voyage Care (first in category)
Described by another Power Fifty member as “the best operator in the sector bar none”, Jayne became Voyage Care’s chief operating officer in March 2015, with responsibility for operations, IT and projects. Jayne joined Voyage in 2013 as Director of Quality and Improvement.
24 Nov 2017
Pan-Asian restaurant group wagamama, a Duke Street investment since 2011, is celebrating a double whammy at the 2017 Peach Hero & Icon Awards, the annual event of leading restaurant industry research house CGA.
Against a tough field of respected operators in the UK restaurant market, wagamama scooped Most Admired Brand or Company, based on a vote by the sector’s leading operators. The group also picked up the Best Company award.
Senior representatives from across the multi-billion pound casual dining sector celebrated the achievements of almost 50 different brands and companies nominated in 14 categories. Big name competitors included Nando’s, Pret a Manger, Leon, Dishoom, Yo! Sushi and Wahaca.
19 Oct 2017
First deal for firm’s new Cornerstone Fund, supported by Goldman Sachs. Duke Street, the mid-market private equity group, has acquired a controlling interest in TeamSport Karting, the UK’s largest indoor go-karting operator. The investment is the first for Duke Street’s new Cornerstone Fund, established in January this year with backing from Goldman Sachs Asset Management and Arcano as a key step in the evolution of Duke Street’s deal-by-deal approach into a hybrid funding model. Unigestion acted as the sole institutional co-investor in the deal.
First deal for firm’s new Cornerstone Fund, supported by Goldman Sachs.
Duke Street, the mid-market private equity group, has acquired a controlling interest in TeamSport Karting, the UK’s largest indoor go-karting operator. The investment is the first for Duke Street’s new Cornerstone Fund, established in January this year with backing from Goldman Sachs Asset Management and Arcano as a key step in the evolution of Duke Street’s deal-by-deal approach into a hybrid funding model. Unigestion acted as the sole institutional co-investor in the deal.
TeamSport was established in 1992 and completed a management buyout from its founder in 2013, backed by investor Connection Capital. With just eight tracks in 2013, TeamSport, led by managing director Dominic Gaynor, now operates 23 tracks across the UK, including five in London, and expects to accelerate this rate of growth under Duke Street’s ownership. The price has not been disclosed.
The UK go-karting sector is highly fragmented, comprising more than 200 mainly independent, single-site operators. TeamSport’s next largest competitor has four sites. The company has achieved impressive growth in recent years through a combination of like-for-like sales improvement, new site openings and enhanced performance from acquired tracks.
TeamSport’s business combines enthusiasm with professionalism, providing exciting karting experiences at high quality facilities with excellent customer service. It offers indoor tracks of up to 1km in length, which include multi-level karting, banked corners, flyovers and ramps as well as hairpin bends, chicanes and fast straights. On-site restaurants and bars are also available at its venues.
Commenting on the TeamSport investment, Charlie Troup, Duke Street Managing Partner, said:
“TeamSport presents an exciting opportunity to support the clear leader in a growing niche segment of the UK leisure market. The strong management team has built a compelling proposition for all levels of racegoers and an excellent platform for further development. We are delighted to be backing Dominic and his team for the next phase of growth.”
Duke Street Partner Jason Lawford added:
“The company’s focus on a superior customer experience, delivered by its committed and loyal team, is recognised in industry-leading customer service scores. We are confident that TeamSport’s high quality offering is capable of being taken to the next level to extend TeamSport’s leading market position and accelerate its growth.”
Dominic Gaynor said:
“Duke Street stood out from the pack with their understanding of our business and their determination to deliver - in my view this makes them an ideal partner for the next stage of TeamSport's journey.”
18 Oct 2017
Andrew Cannon, Voyage Care’s Chief Executive Officer, has been selected for the Health Investor Power Fifty. This is the third consecutive year that Andrew has been recognised by Health Investor as one of the sector’s most influential leaders.
This year he has been shortlisted in the Outstanding Leader category which recognises ‘resilient, visionary and pragmatic’ leaders. Andrew said: ‘I feel honoured to have been shortlisted again and proud to lead an organisation that day in, day out makes such a profound impact to the lives of some of the most vulnerable people in society.’
12 Sep 2017
Voyage Care has been shortlisted as a finalist in two categories of this year’s LaingBuisson Awards.
Voyage Care has been shortlisted as a finalist in two categories of this year’s LaingBuisson Awards.
Following Voyage Care’s success as winner of the Residential Care category in 2016, this year the company is a finalist for Supported Living and Children’s Services (through its specialist healthcare arm, VSH). The winners will be announced on 15 November 2017 at Park Plaza on Westminster Bridge, London.
The LaingBuisson Awards are described as ‘the Oscars of health and social care’. These prestigious awards are in their twelfth year of recognising excellence, they are judged independently and focus on the people providing care and support, along with their advisors.
6 Sep 2017
Ardent Hire Solutions is pleased to announce that it has earned the designation of ‘Gold Members’ from the Supply Chain Sustainability School (SCSS). The School, founded by Skanska with support from Kier, Lend Lease, Morgan Sindall, Sir Robert McAlpine, Willmott Dixon and Aggregate Industries represents a common approach to addressing sustainability within supply chains.
Ardent Hire Solutions is pleased to announce that it has earned the designation of ‘Gold Members’ from the Supply Chain Sustainability School (SCSS).
The School, founded by Skanska with support from Kier, Lend Lease, Morgan Sindall, Sir Robert McAlpine, Willmott Dixon and Aggregate Industries represents a common approach to addressing sustainability within supply chains.
To reach this high position, Ardent successfully completed an assessment followed by regular re-assessments. They actively reviewed the school resources and showed improvement through implementing new processes, demonstrated an increase in sustainability experience and actively shared their knowledge and experience with other members.
Ardent Hire, one of the UK’s largest plant hire companies has set out a sustainable plan to become the UK’s premier plant solutions provider.
‘With a target to double the size of its market share in the UK, initiatives such as working with the SCSS continuously improves our knowledge in the markets we serve and allows us to better understand our customers’ sustainable targets’, says Garry Orr, SHEQ Director at Ardent Hire.
‘We are excited to work closely with the school and learn more about ways in which we can position ourselves as leaders in the fight for a sustainable future’.
The SCSS is a virtual learning environment that aims to help businesses develop sustainability knowledge and competence. It was designed to help further address the challenges faced by the construction industry and to help companies benefit from the many new opportunities that are emerging through sustainable business.
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