Bridgepoint backs car wash MBO

The buyout firm has enabled the IMO Car Wash Group to buy back its former sister company to expand further its European reach and ready the group for an IPO.

Bridgepoint Capital, the European buyout firm, has backed the management buyout of the Toman Group on behalf of IMO Car Wash Group, Europe’s largest conveyor car wash business.

In effect the transaction sees IMO buying back its former German operation, which was sold to the RAG Group in 1994 in order to fund the development of the UK business. The RAG group then sold it to Harpen in 1998, from which IMO has now bought it back for an undisclosed sum.

Bridgepoint Capital first invested in IMO in 1998, when it backed the £114m management buy-in of the group. Phoenix Equity Partners and BNP Paribas also invested at the time. According to Bridgepoint, the Toman acquisition will enable the company to achieve annual revenues of around £100m.

Bridgepoint added that it funded the purchase because it would give IMO a platform for further acquisitions at a time when the highly fragmented German car wash market looks set to enter a period of consolidation. This in turn would place the company in a better position to IPO at the start of next year.

Following the deal, IMO’s operation now constitutes a pan-European car wash business with around 800 sites across Switzerland, Holland, Germany and the UK. Around 250 of these are in the UK.

The group intends to continue its growth by rolling out new sites in its current markets at the rate of 30 to 50 sites per annum. The company has also been rebranding the sites. Last year it commissioned Conran Design to modernise the look of its sites under the name ARC.