The 29 major North West deals you shouldn’t miss

Major deals have been struck by firms from across Manchester, Liverpool, Chester and further afield in recent weeks, with billions of pounds changing hands.

JD Sports, The Hut Group, Redwigwam and Ultimate Products are among the North West giants to have made or been involved in big acquisition and investment announcements.

As the economy continues to reopen, it appears firms from our region are steadily regaining confidence in the hope of returning to pre-pandemic growth.

Below, BusinessLive rounds up 24 of those deals from across the North West that we feel you shouldn’t have missed.

Have a story you want featured in our deals roundup? Email tom.houghton@reachplc.com

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Anthony Joshua

Anthony Joshua
Anthony Joshua
(Image: PA)

Two-time heavyweight champion of the world Anthony Joshua has invested in Manchester-based percussion muscle therapy and recovery brand, Pulseroll.

The Olympic gold medallist, who has been using Pulseroll’s full range of vibration massage devices for nearly five years, will also join the company’s board of directors in an advisory capacity.

He was first introduced to muscle recovery technology when he met Pulseroll founder Paul McCabe during a fight camp in 2016.

Pulseroll devices are used by some of the country’s leading sports teams and organisations such as British Rowing, British Gymnastics, Norwich City FC and Middlesex CCC.

Ultimate Products

Salter makes a range of kitchen and bathroom products
Salter makes a range of kitchen and bathroom products
(Image: Monkey Business – Fotolia)

Greater Manchester-headquartered consumer goods giant Ultimate Products has announced the £34m acquisition of the UK’s oldest houseware brand.

The Oldham-based company has raised about £15m to fund the move for Salter Brands which dates back to 1760.

The proposed fundraise comprised a placing of new ordinary shares and an offer for subscription through the PrimaryBid platform.

Since 2011, Ultimate Products has licensed the Salter brand for the sale of kitchen electrical and cookware products, not including Salter scales, with the current licence due to expire in 2024.

Guardian Angel

The Guardian Angel team, who have just seen revenues triple in six months

A Manchester-based ‘deathtech’ company that helps people plan for and manage death has received an investment of £1.1m after a six months that saw revenue and headcount triple.

Guardian Angel, which claims to be “rattling the bones of the death industry”, said it now has 100,000 customers across its services – and has received the funds from an early seed round led by impact investor Fair By Design.

The firm, which also has a base in London, was founded by former finance professional Sam Grice, after his mother’s death from a road accident.

Playdemic

Playdemic is based in Wilmslow
(Image: Manchester Evening News)

A Cheshire-based mobiles games developer has been sold by WarnerMedia to Electronic Arts in a $1.4bn deal.

Playdemic, which is behind titles such as Golf Clash on Facebook and was founded in 2010, has been snapped up by the California-based giant.

David Haddad, president of Warner Bros. Games, said: “We have enjoyed working with the talented team at Playdemic as they have grown Golf Clash beyond all expectations into a hit mobile game with tremendous longevity.

“While we have great respect for the Playdemic team, our decision to divest is a part of our overall strategy to build games based on Warner Bros. storied franchises.”

Wayne Rooney

Derby County manager Wayne Rooney.

Former Manchester United and England star Wayne Rooney has invested in a Cheshire firm’s new therapeutic product that enables medical professionals and physiotherapists to support injured athletes back to fitness faster.

Mr Rooney will also act as a brand ambassador for ProMOTION EV1 which delivers portable therapy and the ability to monitor progress outside of the physio room.

The product delivers targeted temperature and compression control with none of the reduction in muscle strength that can arise from global cryotherapy, Swellaway Ltd has said.

The Lymm-based company added that the product has received multi-million pound investment from the likes of Mr Rooney, as well as physios, surgeons and other football-focused medical professionals.

Redwigwam

Lorna Davidson of RedWigWam

Redwigwam has won its largest ever contract which means it will now provide employment for 10,000 temporary staff across the UK over the next six months.

The Liverpool-based firm, which specialises in providing fully managed, trained and flexible staff for various sectors, said the contract win comes as demand surges for flexible workers across the country.

It has just won a contract which will provide employment for 10,000 temporary staff across the country, in a variety of roles in sectors including retail, logistics and hospitality.

Monument Therapeutics

Alderley Park, Cheshire

A medicine business is to spin out of its parent company and relocate to Alderley Park in Cheshire after raising more than £2.5m.

Monument Therapeutics has raised £2.625m in seed funding to exit of Cambridge Cognition and relocate.

The new company will focus on applying digital biomarkers to neuroscience drug development with a view to matching patient sub-groups with appropriately targeted compounds.

Monument Therapeutics secured the funding from a consortium of experienced technology and life science investors led by Catapult Ventures’ Greater Manchester and Cheshire Life Sciences Fund and Neo Kuma Ventures, with participation from o2h Ventures, Wren Capital, and angel investors.

Cambridge Cognition has retained a minority shareholding in Monument Therapeutics and has agreed a license for the use of a number of its gold-standard cognitive assessments, including CANTAB, for patient stratification.

Telcom Group

Telcom Group is headquartered in Manchester
Telcom Group is headquartered in Manchester
(Image: Telcom Group)

A Manchester-based internet service provider has received a £63m investment from one of the largest specialist alternative asset managers in the country.

Gresham House, which can trace its roots back to 1857, has backed Telcom Group through its British Strategic Investment Fund (BSIF).

The commitment will enable the company to accelerate its delivery of ultrafast and reliable fibre connectivity to commercial and residential properties across the UK.

Outside Manchester, the group’s focus will be on building fibre networks in “key Northern and Midlands powerhouse” cities.

Armstrong Watson

Paul Dickson, Matt Osbourne, Martin Knaggs and Chris Smart

A Cumbria-based accountancy firm has announced the acquisition of a Yorkshire-based practice in a move hoped to help it become the ‘go to’ for family and owner-managed businesses across the north.

Armstrong Watson said the merger with Leeds firm Volans, Leach & Schofield took effect on June 28, and comes at a time of “exceptional growth” for the Cumbrian firm, which is currently refurbishing its South Parade office in Leeds to accommodate the expansion, and is its second acquisition in four months.

It will see Volans, Leach & Schofield partners Martin Knaggs and Chris Smart, along with their team of staff, join Armstrong Watson to continue to provide tax and accounting services to existing clients.

Supreme plc

Vaping specialist Supreme plc has announced the acquisition of a sports nutrition and supplements business for more than £1m.

The Manchester-based vaping, lighting and batteries group has snapped up the brands and stock of SCI-MX Nutrition Ltd in a deal which will be funded from the group’s existing cash resources.

The acquisition adds a number of long-established retail brands to the group’s growing sports nutrition and wellness category across protein powders and supplements.

It will also enable Supreme to leverage the SCI-MX and PRO2GO brands to grow existing relationships with retailers, as well as cross-sell these brands into Supreme’s significant client base and through the group’s online platform.

Fanattik

Louise Marks at the new Fanattik HQ in Cheshire

Fanattik, the Cheshire based pop culture specialist has signed a pan-European gift license with ViacomCBS Consumer Products for Nickelodeon’s iconic SpongeBob SquarePants.

The deal covers home décor, barware, gifts and collectibles and products will be available from September in gift and toy stores across Europe.

Melissa Tudor – head of product development said: “With half of all viewers being adults, we are going to make sure the products we create appeal to the original fans as well as new ones.

“Each item will have that Fanattik twist which makes our pieces stand out from anything else in the market.”

Your Flock

Dan Sodergren, co founder of Your Flock
Dan Sodergren, co founder of Your Flock

A Manchester-based remote working technology start-up has secured a six-figure investment to further develop its product and add to its diverse board.

Your Flock, whose customers include the BBC, Social Chain and Virgin, has received £240,000 from GC Angels and a private investor.

Based on methodology from Stanford University and the University of Manchester, Your Flock will use the investment to build out its technology proposition and grow its team to integrate the tool with LinkedIn and other social platforms.

It will also use the investment to evolve Your Flock into a pure Software as a Service (SaaS) offering, by curating users’ data with machine learning and artificial intelligence.

Science and Technology Facilities Council

A new project to look at creating a world-leading materials science centre at the Science and Technology Facilities Council’s (STFC) Daresbury Laboratory is underway thanks to more than £1m funding.

If built, the new facility’s state-of-the-art capabilities would provide UK scientists insights in personalised medicine, energy storage, renewable energy and more.

Thanks to the investment from UK Research and Innovation’s Infrastructure Fund, scientists can now start to design what this centre could look like.

Foilco

A second-generation family business that offers high quality printing foil materials used in packaging for a range of industries, has received a £750,000 loan through NPIF – FW Capital Debt Finance, managed by FW Capital and part of the Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund (NPIF).

Foilco, based in Lowton, Warrington, import and sell hot stamping foil which is used in a specialist printing method where a dry, solvent free process transfers metallic effects to packaging.

The company supplies to customers in the food and drink, confectionery, cosmetics, and fashion industries.

Clients include Charlotte Tilbury, Pukka Herbs, Laurent Perrier, Hotel Chocolat, Thorntons, GHD, Chanel, Gucci and Manchester Gin.

JD Sports

JD Sports is headquartered in Greater Manchester
JD Sports is headquartered in Greater Manchester
(Image: Nick Ansell/PA Wire)

JD Sports is to acquire an online retailer for cycling, running and outdoor equipment in Spain for €140.4m.

The Greater Manchester-headquartered group’s 50.02% intermediate holding company in the country, Iberian Sports Retail Group SL, has entered into a conditional agreement to acquire 80% of the issued shares in Deporvillage SL.

Based in Manresa in Catalonia, Deporvillage launched initially in 2010 and has expanded internationally with country specific websites in Italy (2013), France (2013), Portugal (2014), Germany (2018) and UK (2018).

In the year to 31 December 2020, Deporvillage generated revenues of €117.8m and delivered a profit before tax of €7.7m. The gross assets at 31 December 2020 were €51.1m.

Deporvillage was established by Xavier Pladellorens and Ángel Corcuera who, after a number of fund raising exercises, are currently minority shareholders.

Rathbone Brothers

Wealth management giant Rathbone Brothers has announced the acquisition of the UK’s biggest professional services financial planning firm for £150m.

The Merseyside business, which operates from the iconic Port of Liverpool building, has bought Saunderson House for a deal comprising an initial consideration of £135.1m and a deferred consideration of £14.9m. The latter will be payable a year after completion.

Saunderson House supports thousands of high net-worth clients with a focus on professional services clients in London and the South East, with an average portfolio size of £2.2m.

Steven Bartlett

Steven Bartlett
Steven Bartlett

A company backed by new Dragons’ Den star and Social Chain co-founder Steven Bartlett has listed on a US stock exchange.

Atai Life Sciences, which is headquartered in Berlin, Germany, has completed its Nasdaq IPO.

The company is a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical firm aiming to transform the treatment of mental health disorders.

The IPO is expected to have raised proceeds of $225m.

Marine Specialised Technology

Liverpool firm wins £36m contract to build 16 new police boats for MOD

A Liverpool firm making workboats for the military has received a £36m contract to build and deliver patrol craft for the Ministry of Defence (MoD) Police and Gibraltar Defence Police (GDP) forces.

Under the new five-year contract announced today by the MoD, Marine Specialised Technology will build 18 units replacing the current fleet – to be used around Royal Naval bases in the UK and Gibraltar territorial waters.

A total of 16 will be for the MOD, while two will go to the GDP.

ANS Group

The private equity backer of the likes of Mountain Warehouse, UKFast and Virgin Experience Days has acquired a Manchester-based IT company in a move which will create more than 100 jobs this year.

Inflexion has snapped up ANS Group which provides “digital transformation and cloud managed services”.

ANS and UKFast will now be brought together under one parent group “to address the rapid market growth opportunity for digital and cloud services”.

Each business will continue to operate under its existing brand, while offering customers the full portfolio of offerings from across the extended group.

The Hut Group

Matthew Moulding, Executive Chairman, The Hut Group

E-commerce giant The Hut Group (THG) has completed its $255m takeover of Bentley Laboratories, a US upmarket beauty products developer and manufacturer.

The Manchester-headquartered listed group first announced the deal in May at the same time as striking a $2bn boost which has valued its new business-to-business tech arm at $6.3bn.

Bentley is expected to contribute sales of c.$77m (c.£55m) and adjusted EBITDA of c.$15m (c.£11m) in its next financial year and sales of c. $35m (c.£25m) and adjusted EBITDA of c.$7m (c.£5.0m) for the remainder of its current year.

John Morley

A North West-based historic food manufacturer has been bought out by a baking ingredients giant in a deal that will secure dozens of jobs and investment.

John Morley (Importers) Ltd has been acquired by James Fleming & Company Ltd, a subsidiary of Zeelandia UK. It will see production of fruit fillings, dried fruit processing, mincemeat, date paste and macaroon paste continue at John Morley’s five-acre site in Congleton, safeguarding over 50 jobs.

Zeelandia, part of Dutch-headquartered Royal Zeelandia Group, said the deal will expand its UK offering in the industrial, craft, wholesale, and in-store bakery sectors.

Statiflo

Macclesfield engineering company Statiflo is making waves with a new deal to supply equipment to the water and wastewater treatment industry in Scotland.

Statiflo has been appointed as the single supplier of static pipe and channel mixers to Scottish Water and its contractors and partners in the latest phase of a long-running framework agreement.

The Vita Group

Stuart Roby, MD technical at The Vita Group and Duncan Geddies ME at Technical Foam Services
Stuart Roby, MD technical at The Vita Group and Duncan Geddies ME at Technical Foam Services

Manchester-based The Vita Group has announced the acquisition of Technical Foam Services (TFS), a foam conversion business based in Corby.

TFS will bring enhanced technical foam conversion capacity and capability to The Vita Group, as well as bringing an even greater level of service and access to product and conversion expertise for customers.

Duncan Geddes, former owner and managing director of TFS, will continue to lead the business following the acquisition.

He said: “The integration of Technical Foam Services into The Vita Group is an exciting development and will allow us to continue providing our customers with the highest levels of service and be uniquely placed to offer customers additional value-added solutions.”

The Vita Group’s CEO Ian added: “We believe this transaction allows Vita to provide a broader range of services and products, as well as the potential for opening up new routes to market.

“Duncan is a highly respected leader in the industry and with his experienced workforce has built an impressive entrepreneurial company in TFS. We look forward to working together in the future to support our customers.”

Always Pure Organics

Always Pure Organics is based in Manchester
Always Pure Organics is based in Manchester

A Manchester-based cannabis wholesaler has completed the acquisition of a Belgian group for £3m.

Always Pure Organics (APO) has snapped up Distribution Legal Hemp (DLH) and NexGen (NG).

Funded by existing capital, APO takes 100% ownership of the group with founder and chief executive Gavin Ogilvie taking charge of the enlarged group.

DLH/NexGen’s CEO, Joeri Perneel, will start in a newly-created role as APO’s chief commercial officer, whilst retaining a focus on the companies’ activities in the Benelux and French markets.

NorthWest EHealth

NorthWest EHealth's headquarters in Manchester
NorthWest EHealth’s headquarters in Manchester

The private equity firm behind the likes of Mowgli Street Food has invested £3m in a Manchester-based provider of software and services to the clinical trials market.

Foresight Group has backed NorthWest EHealth which was established in 2016 out of a collaboration between the University of Manchester, Salford Royal Foundation NHS Trust and Salford Clinical Commissioning Group.

Its products provide the life sciences industry with an alternative approach to clinical trial design and management.

The company is aiming to become a leading provider of clinical trials and data-driven trial design, feasibility and recruitment.

FDR Law

Consumer law firm Taylor Rose MW has acquired Warrington practice FDR Law into its group as it targets significant expansion in the North-West of England.

FDR Law – formerly known as Forshaws Davies Ridgway – can trace its roots back 250 years and offers a broad range of private client and business law services across the North West.

It has five partners among 24 qualified lawyers, and 55 people in total. FDR Law will retain its brand and management team.

Adrian Jaggard, CEO of Taylor Rose MW, said: “FDR Law has a strong local and regional presence with a respected brand and experienced solicitors. It provides a perfect foundation for our ambitions to grow along the M62 corridor as we build a national network to support both our traditional law firm operation and our fast-growing consultancy business.

“After the successful integration of McMillan Williams, we are now looking to make Taylor Rose MW an even more significant player in the consumer law market than it already is.

“The North West has a heavy concentration of both lawyers and firms, and at a time when the market is changing, we offer something unique to those who want to find better ways to operate.”

Routes Healthcare

Female doctor giving medication to elderly patient sitting on sofa
Female doctor giving medication to elderly patient sitting on sofa
(Image: Dean Mitchell)

The private equity backer of the likes of Gusto and The Alchemist has acquired a majority stake in a North West-headquartered health and homecare services provider.

Palatine Private Equity has invested in Routes Healthcare which operates from 14 service centres, employing 120 operational and management staff, along with 1,000 carers.

The Macclesfield business provides specialist complex care packages for people with long-term health conditions, clinically led enhanced homecare packages and end of life care, enabling people to spend their final days at home.

C21

A Manchester-based communications and digital agency has become an employee-owned business.

C21, which has a turnover of more than £1m, specialises in design, digital and video communications for clients across the UK and globally including The Co-operative Bank and Byrom which organises hospitality, tickets and accommodation to major sporting events across the world.

The company has now established a new employee ownership trust (EOT), which will own 100% of the business.

The deal provides a structured succession plan for the firm’s founder, Christina Clarke, who established C21 in 1998 and has since grown its client portfolio across healthcare, hospitality management, business-to-business, social housing, charity and the public sector.

She will remain in her current executive role to oversee an effective transition, with plans in place for her to become chair in future.

Isotopx

Cheshire-based industrial equipment supplier Isotopx has been sold to Techcomp Europe.

Isotopx designs and manufactures mass spectrometers and enjoys a worldwide customer base. Global equipment manufacturer Techcomp Europe acquired a majority shareholding in the business in a deal which completed on June 30.

Zenon Palacz, CEO and founder Isotopx said “We are really looking forward to working with Techcomp to grow our business together.

“The next few years promise to be an exciting period for us as we build on the success of the ATONA Amplifier and bring exciting new products to market. The culture at Techcomp is a good match with Isotopx, where innovation and cutting-edge technology are at the heart of everything we do.”

Business Live – North West