Management buy-out backed by H2

Posted on 22nd November, 2012

Hancocks Group Holdings Ltd (Hancocks), which includes Hancocks Cash and Carry, has been sold to its management and H2 Equity Partners (H2). The new ownership sees both Andrew and Adrian Hancock step back from the company.

Established in 1962 by Andrew and Adrian’s father Ray Hancock, the Hancocks Group has been owned and managed by the family for 50 years. In that time it has grown to a business with over £100 million in sales, demonstrating consistent growth and resilience to the economic climate.

H2 Equity Partners plans to build on Hancocks’ strong position in the market to take the company forward in the coming years. H2 and management will work together to expand the national depot network, continue to develop both the branded and own label ranges on offer and grow the online activities.

“This can only be great news for our customers, employees and suppliers,” says Andrew Hancock, former owner and Chairman of Hancocks. “From a sweet shop in Shepshed, our family has grown the business to a group that serves many thousands of businesses with their confectionery supplies. We now hand the baton on with pride, knowing that Hancocks can only go from strength to strength,” he adds.

As far as day to day operations are concerned, it is business as usual. Supplier arrangements will stay in place and Hancocks will continue to offer the same high level of service to its customers.

“We are delighted to have reached an agreement that allows us to become the majority shareholder of Hancocks. The business has a strong management team in place and is a great platform to build from. We shall use our significant experience in wholesaling businesses to assist Management in taking the company to the next level,” says Simon Gilbert of H2 Equity Partners.

Mark Watson will remain as CEO and is confident of a bright future for the confectionery company. “I am delighted to be leading such a strong company that has the prospect of becoming a much bigger player within confectionery wholesaling. We have some exciting plans and opportunities to take the business forward with H2 at the helm,” he says.

Investec has provided H2 Equity Partners with a debt and mezzanine financing package. James Stirling of Investec commented “This is an attractive deal for us. Hancocks occupies a clear leadership position in a nichemarket and it offers a clear value-proposition to its customer base. This deal represents the second we have concluded in theUK confectionerymarket, having successfully exited our investment in Big Bear Group in 2011.”

The transaction was completed with support from a number of advisors, including James Trevis, partner from theMidlandsoffice of Eversheds LLP, assisted by Louise Finnie and Vicky Gaskell, PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP and Cavendish Corporate Finance, who acted for the Hancock brothers on the sale and for Mark Watson and the ongoing management team

H2 were advised by Jonathan Watkins and James Kerrigan of DLA LLP inManchesterand Andy Harris and Richard Rose of BDO LLP. Investec were advised by Macfarlanes LLP inLondon.

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