Buyout signals investment and growth for engineering firm08/09/2023
A precision engineering business is set for significant investment through coming under new ownership in a management buy-out, after its founders unveiled their plans to retire.
Impress Group has grown since being founded in 1997 to become a key name in the North East’s engineering sector, employing over 110 people at its sites in Blaydon and Washington and solving complex problems for clients across the region and beyond.
Now, through the impending retirement of directors George Peel, Steven Young and David Haley, Impress is in new but familiar hands with its commercial director Jason Young taking over as managing director.
Jason joined the business 23 years ago and has played a significant role in its growth, working his way through the ranks from his first sales and admin position to take over the reins of the growing firm.
He is backed by Ben Suquet, founder of Lucena Capital, who has invested in Impress and will work alongside Jason in mapping out the next phase of development for the highly-regarded business.
Investment in new equipment is planned, with the business set to continue its sector-leading adoption of the latest technology to drive the next phase of growth.
Jason, who will lead the day-to-day running of Impress, will also retain the vast knowledge and experience of George and Steven as they continue to assume their current responsibilities for the next two years.
“This is definitely an exciting time for the business, and we are looking at making some significant investment across the board,” says Jason.
“We have identified a number of growth areas we want to pursue. The precision engineering market is rapidly evolving with new technologies emerging, which would allow Impress to continue to service our customers at the highest level. We really want to continue to be at the forefront of this.
“We are also investing in improving our processes and internal systems, and have already started to upgrade our ERP systems. We will also be concentrating on our people who have made Impress the business it is over the years through investment in training and development.
“We’re always keen to add new people to our team, one of the biggest barriers to growth is not being able to find the right people, so we are keen to bring in people to help support our ongoing growth and maximise our capacity.”
Ben, whose model with Lucena Capital is to invest in a business and support its development for the long-term, says he looked at over 600 ventures before finding an ideal fit in Impress Group.
“I was quickly very impressed with the depth of knowledge, talent and skillset in this business, the quality of the work they do, and also the passion from Steve, George and Jason. They really care about the business, their employees and their clients,” says Ben.
“The business has a fantastic record of supporting customers, and by investing in our ongoing growth, we can ensure we have the capacity to then support the growth of our customers’ businesses.
“Jason is an ideal leader for Impress Group. Informally acting as MD of Impress for several years, he has developed an in-depth knowledge of the business, the precision engineering sector and has a clear vision for the business ahead.
“George and Steve are not just owners who want to exit – they care so much, and that was very important in me investing.
“Backing people who love what they do and who care about others is very important, and excites me much more than making purely a financial investment.”
On his appointment as managing director, Jason adds: “I have been working towards this for a number of years, with the support of George and Steve. The love they have for this business and this industry is fantastic, they’re very passionate entrepreneurs and they have built a great team who share the same ethos.
“We’re really well placed to carry on growing and developing, and it is quite an emotional step for me to officially become MD. I am really excited to get started, and am very grateful to Abu and Tristan at WilliamsAli for their support in this becoming reality.”
The transaction was supported by award-winning boutique WilliamsAli Corporate Finance, with Abu Ali and Tristan Woolcock leading the deal.
Abu Ali, managing director of WilliamsAli Corporate Finance, says: “Impress Group has earned a fantastic reputation for the quality of its work and dedication to its clients, and the ethos of the business has been led by its founders, who continue to have such passion for the work they do.
“Under Jason’s leadership, as someone who shares that love and dedication, the business is ideally placed for further growth.
“Lucena Capital is committed to supporting the growth of businesses for the long-term, carefully selecting those they choose to invest in and working incredibly closely and proactively with their owners to jointly map out a successful future. This is a model we do not often see, but one which has built an excellent track record for Ben and Lucena.
“Working together, Jason and Ben – supported by Steve and George for the immediate future – have an excellent opportunity to really take Impress Group to the next level, and we’re delighted to have played our role in making that possible.”
John Nicholson, corporate partner at Mincoffs Solicitors, says “The team at Mincoffs Solicitors were delighted to support the transaction.
“It was a pleasure to advise Jason and the other sellers during this period of transition for the business and deliver a successful result for all involved.
“We are sure the Impress Group will continue to prosper under the new management structure.”
Hill Dickinson (legal), Gerald Edelman (financial) and K3 Advisory (tax) supported Lucena Capital.
Tony Tomlin at Debere NE (tax) and David Gair at Mitchells Chartered Accountants (financial) supported Impress.