19th June 2023

Blackrow Group changes hands in MBO

The Yorkshire & North East Corporate Finance team has advised market leading engineering services business, Blackrow Group, and its shareholders on a management buy-out.

Blackrow Group

Blackrow Group (“Blackrow”), a multi-disciplinary, specialist engineering services business based in Grimsby, has undergone a management buy-out (“MBO”) funded by ABN AMRO Commercial Finance UK (“ABN AMRO”).

Blackrow was established in South Humberside over 40 years ago and is a specialist provider of fabrication and installation services to blue chip customers worldwide. It is a market leader in the provision of solutions including conveyor systems, gantry, mezzanine and platform manufacture, control and automation systems, structural and pipework fabrication and installation.

The £32m turnover group, which has a historical specialism in the food & beverage sector but also serves the chemicals, building, engineering and petrochemical sectors, has experienced significant growth in recent years. This is expected to continue based on a high level of market activity and a strong pipeline of business. Blackrow has a blue-chip customer base which includes PepsiCo, KP Snacks and Knauf and is a major employer in the Humber and Grimsby region with over 300 skilled employees.

The MBO sees Managing Director, Tony Booker, together with Gary Pexman (Sales Director), Nick Rands (Operations Director), Luke O’Brien (Structural/Piping Director) and Callum Day (Electrical Director), join the board and become majority shareholders. Blackrow’s current directors and shareholders – Neil Ellis (Finance Director), Chris Marfleet, Darren Broughton and Glenn Richie – will remain on the board and retain an investment in Blackrow.

Neil Ellis, Finance Director, said: “The current shareholders of Blackrow have had succession plans in place for some time and its very pleasing to have seen the MBO team take shape over the last few years and to transition into leadership roles, delivering excellent service to our customers and driving fantastic growth for the business. We believe that Blackrow is in very good hands for this next phase of its growth.”

Tony Booker, Managing Director, commented: “Neil, Chris, Darren and Glenn have led Blackrow through periods of both opportunity and challenge and the strength of the business today is testament to their determination to invest continuously in the business’ facilities, people and capabilities. The MBO team are delighted to been given the opportunity to acquire Blackrow and to continue to build and grow this market leading, regional business.”

ABN AMRO provided new facilities to fund the transaction. James Elliott, Director at ABN AMRO commented: “Blackrow has a fantastic reputation in its markets and an impressive, loyal customer base. These factors, together with an excellent pipeline of projects over coming months and years led us to want to support the MBO and the future growth of the business.”

Blackrow and the shareholders were advised by a Dow Schofield Watts’ Corporate Finance team comprising Roger Esler, Paul Herriott, Jonathan Wilkinson and Mike Barker, who structured the deal and led a competitive fundraising process.

Roger Esler, Corporate Finance Partner at Dow Schofield Watts commented: “It’s been a pleasure working with Blackrow over several years as the company navigated the challenges of the Covid pandemic to emerge as an even stronger and larger business today, with a fantastic reputation in its target markets and creating a robust platform for the MBO.”

Legal advisers to Blackrow and its shareholders were Andrew Jackson Solicitors (Andrew Funnell, Jon Croft, Adrian West) and tax advisers were the Tax Advisory Partnership (Russ Cahill, Toyan Williams). ABN AMRO was advised by Shoosmiths. The MBO Team was advised by Wilkin Chapman (Adam Ottley).

Andrew Funnell, Head of Corporate at Andrew Jackson Solicitors added: “Blackrow has been through a number of buy-outs in its 40 year history and having been adviser to the company for over 20 years, it is great to see it continue its journey as a management owned business, with this MBO being the culmination of careful succession planning.”