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Elaghmore-owned Hexcite Group acquires Blaze Signs

Elaghmore-owned Hexcite Group acquires Blaze Signs
UK private equity fund Elaghmore has acquired one of the UK’s leading sign companies, Blaze Signs Holdings.

Based in Broadstairs, Kent, and with a substantial manufacturing and service centre in Birmingham, Blaze designs, manufactures, installs and maintains high-quality signage for well-known brands, including Lloyds Bank, Vision Express, Tesco and Sainsburys. During the pandemic, Blaze has also been providing social distancing and signage solutions for its customers.

The acquisition includes Blaze’s trading subsidiaries, Blaze Signs and Cygnia Maintenance. Cygnia is the UK’s largest provider of sign maintenance, sign repairs and image protection services.

In total, Blaze employs 250 people across the UK and enjoyed revenues of around £25million in 2019. The management team, led by Clive Knight, Chris Abbott and Fraser Burns, will continue to lead the business following the acquisition. Elaghmore is acquiring Blaze from private equity firm Mobeus.

Blaze will become part of the Hexcite Group, which was created by Elaghmore in 2019 and provides design, communication, brand activation, display and merchandising products and services for major brand owners and retailers.  Blaze joins Kesslers International in Stratford, East London, and Gardners, in Cardiff, as part of Hexcite. Founded in 1893, Kesslers’ designs and manufactures display solutions for many of the world’s most prominent brands, including Primark, L’Oréal and Pernod Ricard. At the same time, Gardners is one of Europe’s leading designers and manufacturers of large format visual displays for retailers, including Asda and B&Q.

The combination of Blaze with Kesslers and Gardners will increase Hexcite Group’s annual turnover to £60 million with a customer base of more than 100 retailers and brands across the globe. The addition of Blaze will add to the significant cross-selling opportunities for Hexcite and will extend its product and service offering to customers. Despite the challenges posed by Covid-19, Kesslers and Gardners have continued to trade throughout the pandemic adapting to the rapidly changing needs of retail customers.

Blaze is the ninth acquisition made by Elaghmore from its £60 million, initial private equity fund, Elaghmore I (Fund 1) which closed at the end of 2016. The investment strategy of the fund is focused on businesses that present a significant opportunity for growth and value creation. Elaghmore has built a strong track record over the past decade, investing in and successfully growing companies.

Michael Rice, Investment Director at Elaghmore and a Director of Hexcite Group, said: “By becoming part of the Hexcite Group, Blaze will add new capabilities that increase the ways we can help our customers, as well as growing our network of retailers and brands. One of the things that links Blaze, Gardners and Kesslers is a belief in first-class customer service. All three businesses have demonstrated this focus during this challenging time. They have rapidly adapted their products and services to address the needs of their customers, including developing social distancing solutions.  We are delighted to welcome our new colleagues from Blaze and Cygnia to the Elaghmore portfolio and to Hexcite. Together, we look forward to growing our share of the marketplace and embrace opportunities to add other compatible businesses to the Group.”

Clive Knight, CEO of Blaze Signs Holdings said: “We are delighted to be joining forces with the Hexcite Group businesses and are excited about accelerating the growth and development of Blaze by working closely with numerous like-minded colleagues, who understand the vital importance of innovation, quality and first-class service for our many retail and brand owning customers.”

Arbuthnot Latham in Leeds supported Elaghmore, providing acquisition and working capital facilities to supplement the Group’s equity investment, while Mills & Reeve’s Birmingham office, KPMG’s Manchester office and Squire Patton Boggs Leeds office all provided advice on the acquisition.

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