Nature of business

Manufacturer and supplier of specialist seating and other products for the elderly and disabled.

Description of deal

A partial sale of the business to Direct Healthcare Group completed in May 2017. NVM invested £4.0m in a management buy-out in June 2013.

Growth strategy

Build on the success of the business through organic growth and acquisition — consolidating its strong position in the UK market and establishing a greater presence overseas.


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AJ Way was acquired in 2010 by Kirton and has helped the Group to be recognised as having the widest seating portfolio in the healthcare market. The Group’s core customers are Local Authorities, NHS Trusts, private care homes as well as the homecare market.

The Group has also embraced the concept of sensory stimulation tools for the education and development of children and those with learning disabilities. This has now migrated to include the development of sensory environments appropriate for the older person in a residential care setting.

It is anticipated that there will be a 50% increase in people aged 65 or older from 2010 to 2030 in the UK, with a doubling of people aged 85 or older. With advances in medical treatment and care there will be higher survival rates from serious injury and illness, resulting in an even greater need for specialist seating and other related products. The demand will be further boosted by regulatory changes and a greater awareness of postural management for those with severe disabilities.

Mike Lord joined the business as Chairman at the time of the investment. He was previously CEO at Minivator, where he oversaw growth in sales from £5m to £50m before selling the business to Handicare in 2010. Mike brings direct knowledge of the assisted living sector in the UK, as well as practical experience in developing overseas sales where there is a significant opportunity for Kirton.

In May 2017 there was a partial sale of the business to Direct Healthcare Group (DHG). DHG is a specialist manufacturer of pressure area care solutions supported by NorthEdge Private Equity and the Kirton brand will fit well in their product suite.  NVM retain a significant stake in the remaining Group that will continue to trade using its AJ Way brand that is well known for its UK manufactured high-quality rise recliners.

We have been delighted by NVM’s insight into what we do and from our very first meeting they spoke enthusiastically of how “we” could grow and develop.

Beverly Lawrence, Group Managing Director of Kirton Group