Gresham achieves 4x money on Warings exit

The sale of the UK construction business after 10 years leaves the UK mid-market firm with one investment still in its second fund's portfolio. Gresham also bought Hotter, a shoe brand for senior citizens.

Gresham Private Equity has finally exited Warings, regional building contractor, after almost a decade of ownership, through the sale of the business to the French Bouygues Construction.

The deal made four times its original investment. It is the second to last deal to be exited from Gresham's second fund.

Ken Lawrence, partner at Gresham said: “We always wanted the business to go to a good home. Len Salter, the chief executive, grew up with the business man and boy and it was important where it ended.”

Lawrence said the business had changed shape significantly during the 10 years it was in Gresham’s portfolio. “Turnover was almost £40 million when we bought it. This year it is around £110 million,” he said.

Founded in the 19th century, Warings has more than 240 employees. Based in Portsmouth, the company undertakes new build and refurbishment projects in a wide variety of sectors across the South of England, from residential, healthcare and commercial to industrial, airports and defence.

Bouygues approached Warings directly, Lawrence said, at exactly the same time as Gresham appointed Cavendish, a corporate finance boutique, to sell the business. It was Cavendish’s 30th deal of the year.

A day earlier Gresham invested £21 million in Hotter Shoes, a UK brand of, comfortable footwear for the grey market.

The company predominantly sells its products through mail order catalogues. It also has four retail outlets across the UK.

Andy Marsh, Partner at Gresham, who led the deal said: “It is a niche brand focused on the affluent grey market where we can see exciting growth potential. Also the business has real scalability through its direct marketing channels via mail order catalogues and internet.”

Iain Wolstenholme, Andy Marsh and Andy Tupholme worked on the deal at Gresham with Andy Marsh and Ken Lawrence joining the board.

Mark Senior at Ernst and Young was lead advisor to Hotter.