- Sale of leading horticultural e-commerce business generates 5.6x return to investors in just over four years
- Follows sale of Clubhouse Golf in March 2020 for a 6.1x return
- The fourth successful exit for Foresight’s Private Equity team in the last twelve months
Click here to download the announcement as a PDF.
Manchester, 15 February 2021: Foresight Group LLP (“Foresight”), a leading listed infrastructure and specialist regional private equity investment manager, is pleased to announce the successful sale of Hedges Direct Group Limited (“Hedges” or “the Group”), a market-leading ecommerce business in the gardening and landscaping sector based in Euxton, Lancashire.
This is the second exit from Foresight Regional Investment LP (“the Fund”), following the successful sale of Clubhouse Golf in March 2020 which generated a return of 6.1x. Following just two strong exits, £44.1 million has been returned to the Fund, representing 84% of drawn capital, with 15 portfolio companies remaining.
The Fund’s success to date exemplifies the strength of Foresight’s regional buyout strategy, which addresses a gap in the market for £1m-£10m equity investments in small and medium-sized growth companies. The Fund specifically targets the North West of England, North Wales and South Yorkshire, a model Foresight has replicated in other regions across the UK. The strategy is delivering both attractive economic returns and broader long‐term benefits for regional communities by applying a professional approach to private equity investment in this underserved part of the market.
Hedges was acquired, following a competitive process, by current Chairman, Steve Caunce, who has backed the management team to continue its impressive growth journey.
Steve Caunce, Chairman of Hedges Direct Group, said: “I am very excited to have acquired Hedges. The team has built a very solid customer focused platform ready for growth. The potential for the business as a result of this is huge. I very much look forward to supporting Jamie and the wider Hedges team to fulfil this potential.”
Jamie Shipley, Managing Director of Hedges Direct Group, said: “It’s been a pleasure working with Claire and the team at Foresight over the past four years. Together we have strengthened our management team and built solid foundations for growth.”
Claire Alvarez, Director at Foresight, added: “It’s been fabulous to work with Jamie and the wider team at Hedges, supporting their rapid growth, which has really escalated recently following the investments made into the business. The growth in the ecommerce sector over the past three years has been dramatic and we are delighted that we have been able to support Hedges in its growth journey and in creating new jobs and opportunities in Lancashire. We wish Steve, Jamie and the team every success for the future.”
Environmental, Social and Governance (“ESG”) considerations are embedded in Foresight’s investment management approach and support the delivery of strong economic returns across the portfolio. Hedges has made significant progress in this regard since Foresight’s investment. The Group’s products are now environmentally friendly and encourage biodiversity. In addition, Hedges now uses recycled water from a borehole and recycles all paper and cardboard. Overall, staff numbers have increased by 60%, mirroring the Group’s fast growth, and turnover has remained low thanks to high employee engagement.
Hedges has been a perfect example of Foresight’s approach to value creation through strengthening the senior management team. Foresight introduced Caunce to the business who has been instrumental in driving Hedges’ recent growth. Other changes to the management team included promoting Jamie Shipley to Managing Director, after 11 years at the Group, and more recently Alex How, who joined from N Brown, to lead the growth of the finance function as Finance Director.
Foresight’s investment supported management in developing the Group’s online presence with improved websites and marketing strategy, greater fulfilment capabilities and new improved office facilities. This allowed Hedges to expand its customer base, targeting both consumer and trade, leading to revenues doubling in four years.
Foresight and the other shareholders were advised by:
Corporate finance: KPMG (Christian Mayo, Rick Stark, James Gaffney, Andrew Kopciowski and Klara Skopac), Alexander & Co (John McCaffrey)
Legal: Shoosmiths (Tim Jackson-Smith and Kendra McCullough), BLM Law (Danny Varney)
Financial diligence: Deloitte (Jodi Birkett, Anika Keys, Avril Edney and Alex Ault)
Commercial diligence: Javelin (Matt Jeffers, Humphrey Rose and Henry Knight)
For more information contact:
Chris Barry, Influential: Barry@thisisinfluential.com / +44 (0)7733 103 693
Notes to Editors
About Foresight Group LLP (“Foresight”):
Foresight is a leading listed infrastructure and private equity investment manager which has been managing investment funds on behalf of institutions and retail clients for more than 35 years.
Foresight has c.£6.8 billion of Assets Under Management across a number of funds, including Listed Vehicles, Limited Partnerships, Enterprise Investment Schemes (EISs), Venture Capital Trusts (VCTs), Inheritance Tax Solutions using Business Relief (BR) and Open-Ended Investment Companies (OEICs).
Foresight’s Private Equity Team, comprising over 30 investment professionals, manages c.£700 million in a portfolio of more than 100 companies and pursues four discrete but complementary investment styles: Venture, Impact, Growth and Replacement Capital through its growing regional office network.
Foresight was a commended finalist in the Best Venture Capital Trust Provider category at the 2020 Investment Life & Pensions Moneyfacts Awards. Foresight was named ‘Fund Manager of the Year’ at the PLC Awards last year, ‘Generalist VCT of the Year’ at the Investment Week Tax Efficiency Awards 2018/19 and was a finalist in the 2018 Unquote British Private Equity Awards as Venture and Growth Capital House of the Year.
Foresight’s largest office is in London with regional UK offices in Edinburgh, Manchester, Nottingham, Milton Keynes, Leicester, Cambridge and Guernsey and international offices in Sydney, Rome, Madrid, and Luxembourg.
About Hedges Direct Group
Hedges Direct Group comprises three companies; Hedges Direct, Best4Hedging and Impact Plants, all focused on various horticultural niches.
Hedges Direct is a leading online retailer with over thirteen years’ experience supplying hedging plants, topiary, pleached and ornamental trees, shrubs, turf and a range of landscaper gardening essentials.
From hedging to topsoil, best4hedging has everything to create the perfect garden. Supplying millions of plants in the last ten years, this experienced retailer has established itself as an authority for all things plant related.
Impact Plants offers high quality, mature, instant and specialised plants at affordable prices.