Primary snaps up Gresham partner

Ian Wolstenholme will start this week as Primary’s head of Manchester office

Primary Capital has expanded its team with the appointment of Ian Wolstenhome as a partner.

Wolstenholme, a former partner at UK lower mid-market firm Gresham, will lead Primary’s new Manchester office, which will focus on investments in the north of England.

At Gresham, Wolstenholme was involved with a number of deals including ICR Integrity, Hotter Shoes and Olaer. Prior to Gresham, Wolstenholme held advisory roles at PricewaterhouseCoopers Corporate Finance and EY Corporate Finance.

Wolstenholme’s track record at Gresham will help Primary to build a “significant local presence in the northern region”, Neil Wallace, chief executive officer of Primary, said in a statement.

The appointment comes as Primary gears up to spend its latest fund, Primary IV, which recently closed on its £225 million target. Primary IV targets businesses with enterprise values of between £20 million and £100 million. The fund will make equity investments of between £10 million and £45 million.

Primary invests in a number of sectors including consumer, leisure, business support services, IT media and communications and industrial products and services. One of Primary’s best-known investments was Yo Sushi, a restaurant chain it sold in 2008 for a 6.2x return. Among its current investments are UK stationery retailer Paperchase and tourist business Leisure Pass Group.

Last April, Primary sold its stake in Amber Travel, a rail travel group, to ECI Partners, generating a return of over 3x. It also sold UK manufacturing business Napier Turbochargers to Wabtec in late January, netting a 5.5x return.