Buyout puts International Mining in the hands of management

MARINE safety equipment supplier International Mining and Marine has undergone a management buyout, with director and general manager Mark Westerman increasing his stake in the business.

Mr Westerman has increased his share of the Sheffield-based business from 25 per cent to 87.5 per cent. Company founder Alan Justice will retain a 12.5 per cent stake. HSBC’s South Yorkshire commercial team provided a seven-figure finance package to support the transaction.

IM&M specialises in supplying safety equipment to merchant vessels involved in the shipping of oil and gas, chemicals and cargo, with a particular niche in the supply of gas detection equipment. The company works with shipping companies across the globe and generates 60 per cent of its £3.5m turnover from overseas sales.

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The business was founded in 1989 and employs 23 people at its Baxter Road headquarters. Mr Westerman joined IM&M in 2003 after working in a sales role for one of the manufacturers which supplies products to the business and worked with Mr Justice and his wife Pat to grow the company.

Mr Westerman said that he now plans to increase the company’s international sales by introducing local sales offices at key major ports. He said: “IM&M has developed an excellent reputation for adding value to our customers and I want to build on the great foundations laid over the past 20 years.

“Becoming majority shareholder has been a target of mine for a number of years, particularly as Alan Justice was looking to develop growth and to secure the company’s long-term future. HSBC has been a supportive banking partner, fully backing me in this transaction.”

He added: “In the short term my focus is on continuity, but over the medium term I would like to introduce sales offices in the major global ports, such as Singapore or Houston. We have around six per cent market share presently of the gas protection equipment market and I think we could capture more of that by being present in local markets.”

Key geographical markets in which the company operates are the UK, Europe, the Far East, Singapore, the Middle East and North America.

“The plan is that we create more jobs in Yorkshire and also potentially more jobs in different parts of the world,” said Mr Westerman.

Speaking about the performance of IM&M since he joined the business, Mr Westerman said: “From when I joined the organisation in 2003 it has grown year on year, it has grown modestly in that time, but it has grown year on year.

“This year it tailed off a little bit as we feel the recession is beginning to bite in the shipping industry but we are still performing reasonably on a monthly basis, but up until the start of this year it was growing year on year.”

Mr Westerman added that he has always wanted to own his own business and described the MBO as “a dream come true”.

Mick Knowles, HSBC South Yorkshire area commercial director, said: “Mark knows this industry inside out and has worked on both the manufacturer and the distributor side. He knows what it takes to deliver a quality service to demanding clients and that is why he is the ideal person to take the business forward.”

Dean Gormley, banking and finance partner at law firm, Irwin Mitchell, which has offices in Leeds and Sheffield, advised HSBC, with support from corporate partner Simon Cuerden.