NorthEdge looks to strike gold with pawnbroker

NorthEdge’s eighth deal takes the total outlay from its £225m maiden fund above £100 million 

NorthEdge Capital, a Northern England-focused buyout firm, has backed pawnbroker Ramsdens Financial Limited, in the eighth deal from its maiden fund.

Ramsdens, established in Stockton-on-Tees in 1987 and headquartered in Middlesbrough, is the largest independent pawnbroker in the UK, employing 450 people at more than 120 branches throughout North East England, Yorkshire, Scotland and Wales.

The company, which also has an online presence, including gold-buying service, placed at no. 70 in the most recent Sunday Times Profit Track 100, a ranking of the UK’s fastest growing companies, with a three-year average profit growth rate of just over 53 percent.

According to a statement from NorthEdge, this investment will allow Ramsdens to continue to develop its store portfolio and expand and grow its core products.

Ramsdens owner and chairman Stewart Smith agreed to the NorthEdge-backed management buyout after deciding to retire, according to a company statement.

NorthEdge’s director James Hall, who will join the board as a non-executive director along with Andy Ball, NorthEdge partner and chief investment officer, said in a statement that Ramsdens’ doubling of its store portfolio over the last three years has provided the company with a “robust platform” from which to grow and develop.

“Ramsdens has a strong position in a niche and exciting part of the financial services market,” Hall said. “Increasing regulation in the marketplace is opening up new opportunities, while driving standards and practices even higher, which is good news for Ramsdens.”

NorthEdge, which has offices in Manchester and Leeds, was established in 2009 by co-founders Ball, Grant Berry and Dan Wright, with Emma Rawlinson as finance director. Berry, Ball and chairman Michael Joseph previously worked together at LDC, the private equity arm of Lloyds Bank.

The firm closed its debut fund on its £225 million hard-cap in March 2013, which at the time was one of the largest closings by a first-time fund in Europe since the crisis.

This deal brings NorthEdge’s outlay to more than £100 million. This includes a £15 million investment in Roberts Jackson, a specialist Cheshire-based law firm, and a £16.1 million acquisition of Utiligroup, a data management software and services company based in Lancashire.