CLB Coopers advises on acquisition of Engage Services Limited

Blackburn-based Engage Services Limited has been acquired by Marston Holdings Limited in a sale by the company shareholders.

Engage was advised by the Corporate Finance and Tax teams at accountancy & advisory firm, CLB Coopers and commercial law firm, Needle Partners.

Engage has an extensive network of field agents operating across England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland and provides field-based collections to a range of utilities, financial services and public sector clients.

The business was founded in 1999 and was originally formed to service the deregulation of the energy industry. Making a strong impression in its market place, the company was acquired by a high street bank followed by a second acquisition by a leading debt collection agency in 2007.

Engage is now an established business with over 70 employees and a network of over 800 active field agents who conduct over 25,000 visits to individuals and properties every month for clients based across a range of industry sectors, including utilities, financial services and the public sector.

The acquisition of Engage brings Marston an additional specialist offering in non -court order based field collections, an area where the group had not previously had a strong presence.

Engage is fully authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), which has formally approved the change of control. It becomes the third Marston business to have full FCA authorisation in respect of regulated debt collection activity.

Michael Wolfenden and Gary Jones of Engage will remain on the board and continue to run the business. Selima Norton, who co-founded Engage with John Wolfenden and who has been instrumental to its development, and John Weldrake, Engage’s Field Operations Director, will both exit the company.

Speaking of the transaction, John Wolfenden, Engage’s majority shareholder prior to the sale and who now retires from the business, said: "CLB Coopers’ corporate finance & tax teams were excellent and totally supportive in every aspect of the sale process. Their advice and interaction with the buyers really were fundamental to the process and to this successful conclusion.

"Andrew Feeke of CLB Coopers and Sharon Needle & her team at Needle Partners all worked tirelessly with us and with the buyers through the transaction and, on behalf of the management team, I would like to thank them all for their support and for an excellent job."

Andrew Feeke, corporate finance partner at CLB Coopers, who advised the owners of Engage throughout the sale process, alongside Ian Smethurst and Nick Donohue from the firm’s Tax team, said: “Engage’s management team has built an impressive business and the company’s specialist offering is a perfect complement to those services offered by Marston Group as the largest judicial services group in the UK.

"Guiding them through the sale of the business demonstrates perfectly how the teams at CLB Coopers can support the successful entrepreneur to help them achieve their business goals and to realise their commercial and personal ambitions."

Engage’s shareholders were also advised by Sharon Needle, managing partner of commercial law firm, Needle Partners. Speaking of the transaction, Sharon commented: “We were delighted to work with the sellers in the disposal of such an interesting business and we wish them, and Marston, every success in the future.” Gareth Hughes, chief executive of Marston, commented: “Engage is strongly positioned in the field services market segment. It has an excellent track record of engaging with customers in an effective, sensitive manner and has made significant investment in technology. We are delighted that they have joined us.”