NVM Private Equity (NVM) has supported the £5.5 million management buy-out of Kirton Group (Kirton), the leading UK manufacturer and supplier of specialist seating and other products for the elderly and disabled. The management team plans to 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.
Haverhill based Kirton was established over 30 years ago by exiting Chairman, Martin Battye. Whilst working as a nurse in the mental health sector he recognised a need for enhanced seating and support for those with severe disabilities. Martin designed innovative seating products, with the help of occupational therapists, to ensure comfort and achieve appropriate postural support for the user. Kirton now owns the intellectual property rights of more than 30 models.
High Wycombe based 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. Throughout Kirton’s history the business has continued to design and launch new products — seeking input from user groups and healthcare professionals. In the 1990s, the Group embraced the concept of sensory stimulation tools for the education and development of children and those with learning disabilities, which has now migrated to include the development of sensory environments appropriate for the older person in a residential care setting.
According to a special inquiry by the House of Lords, a 50% increase in people aged 65 or older is anticipated 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.
Beverly Lawrence has been with Kirton for 15 years and took over as Group Managing Director in 2011 from her previous role as Marketing Director. She has been instrumental in Kirton’s approach to its markets and the development of its product portfolio, as well as playing a leading role in the strategic acquisition of AJ Way. Kirton currently employs a total of 112 staff.
Beverly Lawrence commented: “This is a very exciting time for Kirton Group. The legacy that has been built by Martin will be nurtured by the management team and we look forward to taking our wonderful products to new markets and help those that have yet to experience the benefits of specialist seating. 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. Together, we are looking forward to developing new products, new markets and welcoming new people to our organisation.”
Mike Lord will be joining the business as Chairman. He was previously CEO at Minivator, where he oversaw growth in sales from £5 million to £50 million before selling the business on to Handicare in 2010. He 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.
Investment Directors, David Rolfe and James Arrowsmith , completed the deal for NVM. David will join Kirton’s board and commented: “Design, innovation and strong relationships are at the heart of Kirton’s business. They are well-respected in the healthcare industry and their products continually evolve – allowing them to stay ahead of the market. We have been very impressed with the management team and look forward to working with them to take advantage of the growing demand for their product both at home in the UK and abroad.”
Notes To Editors
Baker Tilly Corporate Finance (Management – Corporate finance) – Tom Gallop
Grant Thornton (NVM – Financial due diligence) – Bob Alsop, Mo Merali, Steven Holmes, Jane MacKay, Michael Cooper, Richard Thomas
CIL (NVM – Commercial due diligence) – Alex Marshall, Matthew Hardcastle
Wragge & Co. (NVM – Legal and legal due diligence) – Ian Piggin, Gareth Baker, James Bradshaw, Graham Spalding
Continuum (NVM – Management due diligence) – Steve Wycherley
Mills & Reeve (Vendors – Legal) – Nick Fischl, Hannah Aldous
Birketts (Management – Legal due diligence) – Adrian Seagers, Sarah Ilic
Aon (NVM – Insurance due diligence) – John Donald
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