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Home » North East Deals Of The Week: Key Contracts, Acquisitions And Investments

North East Deals Of The Week: Key Contracts, Acquisitions And Investments

Major North East property employer iamproperty – which started as a two-man team – is launching into its next growth phrase with investment worth more than £100m from a new private equity backer.

Newcastle based iamproperty – set up in in 2009 by Jamie Cooke and Ben Ridgway and now staffed by more than 530 people – has announced Perwyn as its new private equity partner, as it prepares to record its biggest year of growth to date. The Arden House, Gosforth, based business, was established to fill a gap in the market for a property auction company which could benefit both estate agents and buyers. It has since grown to become a leader in property technology as pioneers of the Modern Method of Auction, working with over 6,000 UK estate agency branches.

The level of investment has not been disclosed but it is speculated that the deal value is more than £100m. The company, which expects revenues to rocket from £55m to £76m for the financial year ending October 31, says Perwyn will support the company’s ambitious next stage of growth as strategic investment partner, with specialist expertise of working with ambitious technology companies. Co-founders Mr Ridgway and Mr Cooke, alongside the management team, will retain majority share and continue to drive forward their mission to modernise the property industry.

ScS is set to be acquired (Image: ScS) Sunderland sofa group ScS is set be taken into private ownership after an Italian business made a cash offer, valuing it at almost £100m. The Wearside retailer, which has 100 stores across the UK selling soft furnishings, flooring and furniture, has received an offer from Cerezzola Limited, a subsidiary of Poltronesofà SpA, in which ScS shareholders will be entitled to 280p per share. The transaction values ScS’s entire share capital at approximately £99.38m – and ScS directors, advised by Shore Capital, consider the terms of the acquisition to be “fair and reasonable”.

The Stock Market announcement on the offer details how the Poltronesofà Board believes there is a “compelling strategic and financial rationale for undertaking the acquisition”, giving it a way into the UK market as the next step in its successful pan-European expansion.

ScS directors intend to recommend unanimously that shareholders vote in favour of the scheme and, subject to the satisfaction of a number of conditions, the acquisition is expected to become effective in the first quarter of 2024.

Esh Group head office in Durham (Image: Esh Group) Esh Construction is set to put its regional growth plans into action after sealing a £6m financing facility with Bibby Financial Services (BFS). The company – the main trading arm of Durham based Esh Group – said it will use the facility will be used to support its ambitious investment and growth plans across the North East, Yorkshire and Humber regions. The group, established more than 50 years ago, is one of the North’s largest privately-owned construction businesses, with civil engineering, affordable housing, commercial build and private housebuilding divisions.

BFS provided a £6m asset based funding package, and Esh said it selected BFS as its funding partner due to the financier’s speed of decision making and ability to deliver a tailored solution which met the group’s specific funding needs. Andy Radcliffe, Esh Group’s chief executive officer, said: “We are very proud of the business we have built and the reputation we have earned in over half a century of operation. Securing the right funding partner was vital to us achieving the next stage of our growth ambitions. Flexibility, a deep understanding of our industry, and recognition of our solid financial footing were essential components of our selection process, and this is what we have found in BFS.

(Left to right) Toby Bailey, business development director, Ben Johnson, operations director, Lord Matt Ridley, Lindsay Lowes, business finance manager, Joe Orrell, managing director. (Image: RED Engineering) Northumberland firm RED Engineering has invested £1.3m into a new technology centre to cement its reputation as an innovative problem solver for regional, national and international clients.

The 14,000 sqft RED Technology Centre employs 34 skilled staff and represents a key element of the Hexham company’s growth strategy, having hired six new staff over the past year. RED Engineering rented space at a number of locations for its assembly and test activities before creating the new facility, based on the site of a former Northumberland County Council depot beside RED’s head office on Burn Lane, Hexham.

Joe Orrell, managing director, said: “The purchase of this site, opposite our head office, has been a long-term goal because it will further integrate our design, build and testing process, which is crucial to the fast-track development of new technology and solutions for our clients. This significant investment will provide us with additional capability and resource to manage and deliver the growing number of projects we are winning.

The £4m turnover company, launched in 2008, has self-funded the majority of the investment, together with a £136,000 grant from the Regional Growth Fund. The project included clearing the site and building an industrial unit suitable for the assembly and testing of specialist equipment, including units to provide office, amenities and storage areas.

The A&P shipyard in Hebburn, South Tyneside. (Image: A&P Group) Two leading ship building and repairing businesses have come together under one group amid moves to become a “true global entity”. A&P Group – which runs yards at Hebburn in South Tyneside, Middlesbrough and in Falmouth – and Cammell Laird, which has operations on Merseyside, now form part of APCL Group Ltd, an organisation formed to act as an umbrella company for the two businesses. Ship repair and project management specialist A&P Australia and Neway Industrial Services, based in Birkenhead, will also be brought under the APCL banner.

The two companies have had a long-standing close relationship, with David McGinley acting as CEO of both firms until his latest appointment overseeing the newly-formed group. The firms have supported each other in key contracts for some time, including building part of the Royal Navy’s latest fleet of anti-submarine frigates – a lucrative contract which has seen A&P Tyne deliver units for HMS Belfast.

Arnab Basu, chief executive of Kromek (Image: Doug Moody Photography) County Durham radiation detection company Kromek secured a $5.9m contract by a US Government department. The Sedgefield business, based at NETPark, is a developer of radiation detection and bio-detection tech solutions for the advanced imaging and CBRN (chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear) detection sectors. The company has announced that it has secured the multimillion-pound contract from the US Department of Homeland Security’s Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction (CWMD) Office, for the research and development of technologies focusing on a bio-detection system.

Funded by US and UK government agencies, Kromek has spent four years developing technology for a benchtop-sized machine that filters the air and captures all biological particles, which are then DNA-sequenced to monitor both their emergence and prevalence of pathogens. The technology can be applied to identify both known and novel pathogens, either natural or manmade.

Venture Stream’s chief operating officer Andy Robinson, chief executive officer Vic Morgan and chief commercial officer James Chapman (Image: Venture Stream/Mincoffs) North East online mail order fashion brand Lily Ella made a return under new ownership, two months after the original company was liquidated by its founder. Lily Ella Ltd, which was based at Benton’s North Tyne Industrial Estate, was originally established in 2013 and grew to become a popular ladies fashion firm, operating online and through catalogues while also offering an alterations service. However, founder Zoe Glover called in business advisors during the summer after escalating costs and slowing demand impacted the business.

The company was closed with the loss of seven jobs, and was liquidated by insolvency specialists at Begbies Traynor. Now Newcastle ecommerce agency Venture Stream has saved the women’s clothing brand, thanks to legal support from Mincoffs.

Andy Robinson, chief operating officer at Venture Stream, said: “We worked with the previous team at Lily Ella for many years and, alongside thousands of loyal customers, we were sad to see it fall into liquidation. Thankfully, with help and advice from Mincoffs and our team of ecommerce experts, we were able to quickly secure a deal to purchase the business and bring the brand back to life.”