London-headquartered Duke Street Capital has sought to better integrate its pool of operating partners by involving them in all stages of its investment, from origination to exit. Previously, they would only be employed to consult on and manage portfolio companies post-acquisition.
The firm has also supplemented its ten-strong operating partner team by hiring Martin Robinson, an experienced senior executive specialising in the leisure sector, and Johanna Waterous, a retail and consumer expert with more than 20 years experience at management consultancy McKinsey.
The firm said in a statement: “Now, in addition to post investment transformation, operating partners are involved in the full life-cycle of Duke Street’s investment process, particularly identification of attractive acquisitions outside competitive situations and subsequent due diligence.”
We believe that involving our operating partners will help us identify the most attractive potential acquisitions to us
Robinson is currently chairman of leisure company Center Parcs UK, which is owned by US alternatives manager Blackstone Group. He is also a supervising board director of amusement park Disneyland Paris and chairman of Figaro, a leisure-focused advisory group. He will join the board of recently-acquired Duke Street portfolio company wagamama, the firm said.
Waterous, a Canadian, has spent the last 22 years at McKinsey, where she was the first woman to be made a director outside of North America. More recently, she co-led the firm European retail and global consumer marketing practices. She has been active in venture capital since 2007 and has ‘coached’ several smaller business, according to Duke Street. She is chairman of luxury fashion label Britt Lintner and is an operating partner advisory boutique Global Leisure Partners.
Peter Taylor, managing partner of Duke Street, said: “We are excited about the firm’s future prospects. There are currently a myriad of potential deals out there and we believe that involving our operating partners in the process of identifying potential acquisitions will help us identify the most attractive to us. Given our approach of investing in more complex, off-market businesses than traditional private equity houses, their expertise and experience will be of great value to us.
“They will join our existing team of operating partners that all have a successful track record in transforming unauctionable companies into highly sought after, eminently auctionable ones as a result of our hands-on approach.”
During the financial crisis, many private equity firms sought to address criticisms that they had relied on financial engineering to generate returns in the boom, rather than through operational improvements, by hiring executives with hands-on experience of managing companies.