Endless in £15m buyout of James Briggs

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ENDLESS has backed the £15m buyout of Oldham-based chemicals manufacturer James Briggs, underlining its appetite for acquiring non-core assets from larger groups.

The Leeds-based private equity house bought the £50m-turnover business from ITW, a Fortune 200 global manufacturing group based in Illinois.

Endless has appointed Jim Sumner, formerly of the Aim-listed Leeds busmaker Optare, as executive chairman.

Founded in 1830, James Briggs designs, formulates and manufactures products including paints, lubricants, cleaning fluids and polishes for automotive, industrial, hygiene and other sectors.

Darren Forshaw, a partner at Endless, said the business has “a few quirks” that deterred other private equity investors, but which Endless can turn into advantages in the long run.

“Rather than needing to do a turnaround, it’s operational enhancement. Similar skills but from very stable and strong business which makes it even more exciting,” he told the Yorkshire Post yesterday.

Mr Sumner said the business has huge potential to develop both its private label and branded businesses in UK and overseas markets.

“The capital being invested as part of the deal will improve the operational performance of the company and this, combined with investment in infrastructure and marketing, will allow the business to realise its full potential,” he added.

Mathew Deering, investment director at Endless, who led the deal for the firm, said: “James Briggs has increased sales and profitability in recent years but it had become non-core to its parent company and this was naturally constraining its ability to fulfil its potential.

“Jim Sumner’s track record and knowledge perfectly complement the existing management team as we aim for strong growth in the coming years.”

Endless, founded by Mr Forshaw and Garry Wilson in Leeds in 2005, invests in turnarounds, financial restructurings and management buyouts.

It manages funds worth more than £400m. Its third fund, raised in summer 2011, is now 40 per cent invested.

Mr Forshaw said: “We are seeing more attractive opportunities than we have for a long time. Deploying the fund is not a major concern. It’s choosing the right ones. All four offices and regions are seeing good investments at the moment.”

Endless has offices in Leeds, Manchester, Birmingham and London.

Investors including pension funds, family offices, universities and charitable endowments from the USA and across Europe.