Mercury exits Braitrim for E180m

The exit has been very satisfactory for Mercury but less spectacular than it might have been.

Mercury Private Equity has sold Braitrim Holdings to Spotless Group Ltd for E180m in cash.

Braitrim provides design and project management solutions for retail packaging worldwide. It offers a fully managed service for the supply chain, from design to delivery, including hangers, labelling, and bespoke product packaging.

Mercury received two unsolicited approaches for Braitrim from trade purchasers before it decided to explore the appetite in the market. The private equity firm then approached Spotless, an Australian business-to-business service group.

Nick Martin, a director of Mercury Private Equity, explained to PEO that the exit has been satisfactory but less spectacular than it might have been. “When we acquired Braitrim in March 1998, the garment retailing industry in the UK was very successful. Marks and Spencer was one of the most admired companies in the UK. We have managed to increase the value of Braitrim by more than 50 per cent – a testament to chief executive John Coleman and his management team.

“The business has also met our target of beating the public market by 15 per cent per annum. The quality of this business is such that if the UK garment retailing industry had not bombed, and had it been a fair wind, I think it would have been a flotation. I think Spotless has made a very good acquisition and I wish them well with it.

“To achieve such a good exit in the current market is an achievement in itself. We started this process before the markets went into nosedive about three or four weeks ago and to have held the price throughout that period and concluded the transaction in spite of that and the weakening of the Australian dollar is also a major achievement.”

Mercury’s acquisition of Braitrim in February 1998 valued the business at E135m. Since this time the company has grown revenuesto E150m from E80m and has diversified its client base through aggressive growth in Germany, France, Scandinavia and Hong Kong.

Peter Wilson, chief executive of the plastics group of Spotless Group Ltd, said: “Spotless (including Plastiform) and Braitrim have a culture of innovation, quality and service. Braitrim’s business focuses on Europe while Spotless is orientated towards the US and Australian markets. There is a strong complimentary nature to both businesses. As a result of this business development, greater service and product opportunities will be available to the group’s customer base.”