Graphite in £25m cracker buyout

Graphite Capital has completed its third deal in the past two months, adding to already significant deal flow in the UK mid-market sector this year.

Mid-market private equity firm Graphite Capital has backed a management buyout of Napier Industries. It is the firm’s second transaction of the year, and one that increases Graphite Capital’s total transaction value over six deals to £208m during the past six months.


Napier, the world’s largest manufacturer of Christmas crackers, is being purchased from Richard and Charles Cyzer who acquired it in 1983. Richard Cyzer and Napier’s other senior managers will stay with the business after the sale, retaining a minority stake in the business.


Graphite is paying £25m for the company, with Barclays Bank providing debt for the acquisition. Napier, which sells its products to UK department stores, reported turnover last year of just under £20m.


Graphite Capital partner John O’Neill said the firm was backing a very well established business with an enviable customer base, with clients including Sainsbury and Tesco. He added that Graphite would look to grow the business by building on the company’s existing reputation and by expanding ongoing relationships in the UK market.


The UK mid-market has seen a healthy stream of activity in what has otherwise been a quiet start to the year in terms of European buyout activity. In mid-January, Graphite acquired fashion retail chain Jane Norman for £70m. HgCapital recently completed the acquisition of UK software group Rolfe & Nolan.


Also in January, Close Brothers Private Equity acquired a chemicals business from BP for £32m, while Phoenix Equity Partners which led a £62m secondary buyout of Vivid Imaginations. 3i paid £56m to acquire Extec Industries, a UK-based construction equipment business.