Graphite in £23m kitchen deal

The UK buyout house has completed the take private of The Range Cooker Company, a deal that has been in the making for 12 months.

Graphite Capital, the UK private equity house, has backed retail entrepreneur Robin Russell in the £23m management buyout management buy-in of The Range Cooker Company, the UK kitchen systems retailer. The company will now trade under the new name Britannia Living.

Graphite and management is providing around £10m of equity to the deal, with £16m of debt including working capital arranged by the Bank of Scotland (BoS).

Range, which is listed on London’s Alternative Investment Market, is being sold as a consequence of company chairman John Armstrong’s long-term illness. For over a year the 53-year old entrepreneur had relied on other members of the board to oversee the company.

Graphite Capital was introduced to the business in the middle of the year when corporate finance advisers Altium Capital presented the firm with a proposal for a transaction. Russell had approached Altium in the first instance at the end of 2001. McDermott, Will & Emery and Olswang were legal advisors on the deal. Graphite was not available to comment.

Former operations director Richard Buckley and sales and marketing market director Christopher Grattan will remain part of the new management team. All other directors will resign. Kerry Neath has been appointed finance director.

The deal comes amid expectations that 2003 is likely to see a surge in public-to-private transactions. Plant hire firm Lavendon recently announced that it has received a second private equity-backed approach to take the firm private. Other deals that are currently in the pipeline include the possible take privates of Boosey & Hawkes, Chesterton International, Forever Broadcasting, IDS Group, Mezzanine Group, Ryland Group and Seymour Price.