How Lancashire’s management teams can unlock growth post-pandemic

The pandemic has turned life upside-down. And for business leaders, this has meant a renewed focus on short-term objectives, supporting employees and staying close to customers. 

Now, as we begin to emerge on the other side, the resilience and hard work of management teams across Lancashire is starting to pay off. Business leaders can now begin to review their priorities and pursue new opportunities for growth. Here, we explore how Lancashire’s businesses can prepare to grow as lockdown measures ease. 

Routes to growth

There are several avenues to growth for management teams to consider, whether that’s organic, international expansion or making complementary acquisitions. 

But, as a first step, management teams need a deliverable strategy in place that meets their objectives. Take international expansion – businesses must consider their target markets and their routes into those markets, which could span anything from sales and opening new offices to acquiring a business to boost geographical footprint.

An example is our partnership with Oliver Dennis, CEO of Fishawack Health, a leading healthcare communications business headquartered in the North West. 

Back in 2017, Oliver and his team were running a UK-based business but wanted to expand overseas to boost their customer base, particularly in North America. 

Bringing in people that have been there and done it can give you the confidence to push forward

To do this, they took time to identify acquisition targets in their key markets, which allowed them to hit the ground running. 

As a result of this due diligence and preparation, during our four-year partnership the team made five international acquisitions, supported by £18.5m in follow-on funding. As well as extending Fishawack’s global footprint, revenues soared by 300 per cent.

To deliver organic growth, management teams need to have a laser focus on their customers. Their needs are changing faster than ever, but this means there is a big opportunity to unlock additional growth through developing new products and services. 

Take Love Energy Savings, which helps small and medium-sized businesses find the best value energy tariffs. In 2018, we invested £25m, allowing it to expand its corporate services division, invest in proprietary technology platforms and diversify into the water, telecoms and insurance markets. 

Strength in numbers 

After a challenging 12 months, many business leaders want to consolidate their market position, or acquire a competitor to build additional resilience and scale. 

Our partnership with digital marketing agency MSQ Partners, which has offices in the North West, is a great example of this. 

In June last year, we supported the team as it acquired Be Heard Partnership in a £20.6m deal in which LDC provided £6m follow-on funding to support the public-to-private transaction. 

The move is now helping the marketing group to accelerate growth by building scale and increasing its technical capabilities, particularly in digital tech and data analytics.

We know that acquisitive growth strategies create value – even during the economic uncertainty of 2019 and 2020, we supported more than 50 acquisitions across our portfolio with a combined enterprise value of over £250m. 

Bringing on board new expertise

For Lancashire’s small and medium-sized businesses, reviewing their operations to identify the best growth strategy for them will be key to recovery in the coming months. 

Reviewing a business’s track record is a natural first step, to help pinpoint where the biggest opportunities lie. By reviewing performance, and understanding the activity of competitors in the market, management teams can build out a clear growth plan.  

It’s at this stage that many businesses benefit from bringing on board external investment and expertise. Management teams know their business better than anyone – but bringing in people that have been there and done it can give them the added confidence to push forward with their plans. 

This is where partnering with a private equity backer can be invaluable. Take our recent investments with WCCTV and Rhino Products. The management teams of these North West businesses both came to LDC with clear growth plans but knew our support could help turbocharge their ambitions.

As the economic situation across the UK continues to improve, now is the time for businesses across Lancashire to confidently push for growth and continue to build scale and resilience.  

With over 40 years’ experience of partnering with ambitious management teams to help realise their growth strategies, we are committed to supporting business leaders across the region with our capital and expertise and are looking forward to helping businesses build back stronger.

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