Woodall Nicholson, a manufacturer of specialist vehicles for the funeral, public transport and emergency services markets, has secured a substantial investment from BGF (Business Growth Fund).
The funding will support the increased production of its new environmentally friendly, low floor buses at its site in Rochdale, along with the company’s longer term growth plans in its other divisions.
Woodall Nicholson manufactures and sells vehicles under the Coleman Milne, Mellor and Coleman Milne Specialist Vehicles (CMSV) brands, converting vehicles from major OEMs including Mercedes, Ford, BMW, Volkswagen Audi Group, Fiat and Iveco. The company’s origins date back to 1820 when its main activity was building horse drawn hansom cabs and carriages.
Throughout 2016, the business has launched a number of new products, including its Mercedes based 22 seater low floor bus, Strata, aimed at the stage transit bus operator and community transport markets. The company plans to introduce further new products and double production of vehicles across its Mellor range, which focuses on small buses for local authorities and bus operators.
Woodall Nicholson also plans to use BGF’s funding to support organic growth and the launch of new products in its funeral vehicle and emergency service vehicle divisions.
The company is led by CEO Geoff Hudson, who joined Woodall Nicholson as an apprentice 46 years ago, supported by finance director Dan Jackson who joined the business in 2013. More than 230 people are employed at its factories in Westhoughton, near Bolton, Rochdale and Scarborough.
Mosaic Private Equity, Enterprise Ventures and RooGreen Ventures completed a buy-in management buyout of the business in July 2013. At that point Brian Davidson was appointed chairman. All parties remain substantial shareholders and supportive partners in the company.
Hudson says: “This has been a particularly exciting period with the recent introduction of four new models in the Mellor range and the launch of the Ford Mondeo based funeral vehicles. With our newest model, Strata, there is a significant opportunity to increase our activity in the UK bus operator sector and our existing products are ideally suited to export markets. BGF’s investment provides further strength to our armoury to help achieve this.
“With the continued support of our existing investors, in addition to our new minority partner BGF, we look forward to pursuing further growth.”
BGF’s Matt Widdall, who will join the board of Woodall Nicholson, says: “Woodall Nicholson is an established, longstanding business that is highly innovative and has a big appetite for growth. We are pleased to be supporting the business alongside its existing investors, and to be backing another great business in the North.”