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Help-Link fired up by HomeServe

Private equity backed Help-Link has entered into an agreement to be acquired by international home repairs and improvements group HomeServe plc, in a move that allows HomeServe to create a new UK-wide home heating business, bringing together installations, servicing and repairs.

The deal values the Help-Link business at up to GBP22.7m.
 
The Leeds-based business, which is the UK’s largest independent boiler installer, has been through a period of transformation over the last two years. The collapse of the ‘ECO’ market for subsidised boiler installations, impacted immediately on the company and resulted in its reporting a loss before tax of GBP15.3m in the year to 31 March 2016. 
 
The NorthEdge Capital-backed business appointed Warwick Ley of RooGreen Ventures as Chairman followed by Richard Harrison as CEO to spearhead the turnaround in the business in 2015. Help-Link went on to further strengthen its senior management team via key appointments during 2015/16 and has secured significant national relationships with blue chip companies including EDF Energy. It also undertook a highly successful and innovative transformation of its customer proposition which has improved its market standing and re-ignited growth. Following a highly successful turnaround, the business is expected to return to profitability in the year to 31 March 2018.
 
Walsall-headquartered HomeServe is listed on the London Stock Exchange and has a market capitalisation of GBP2.2 billion. It provides a comprehensive range of water, heating, electrical assistance and repair products to 7.8 million customers in the UK, North America, France, Spain and Italy.
 
The transaction was led by Partner Dan Wright and Investment Manager James Marshall from NorthEdge. NorthEdge was advised by GCA Altium, Walker Morris, KPMG and EY.
 
Richard Harrison, CEO at Help-Link, says: “After a relentless, but successful two years where we have improved and re-engineered our business, we are looking forward to becoming part of HomeServe’s rapid growth story. My management team have worked tirelessly to build a market-leading company that is now a valuable addition to the HomeServe proposition. HomeServe has demonstrated strong growth in the UK market and is already starting to build momentum overseas, in countries including North America, France and Spain. I would like to thank NorthEdge for its unwavering support and for helping us get the business to this stage.”
 
James Marshall, Investment Manager at NorthEdge, adds: “The strategic move by HomeServe to acquire Help-Link is very exciting and the combination of the two businesses creates a significant player in the highly fragmented UK boiler installation market. It has been great to support Richard, Warwick and the team as they have taken the business through a period of transformation and we would like to express our appreciation for their efforts. Help-Link has made rapid progress in a short space of time, driving growth by creating a best-in-class operating platform, redefining the customer proposition and developing market leading customer service levels. We wish every success to everyone at Help-Link on the next phase of their journey with HomeServe.”
 
Martin Bennett, Chief Executive at HomeServe UK, says: “Of the million boiler installations in the UK every year, the vast majority are undertaken by local and regional tradesmen. There is significant opportunity for a new end-to-end business to offer the accessibility of a local trader, combined with the scale and expertise of a national network.
 
“At HomeServe, we have invested significantly in gas servicing and repairs as well as in our boiler and smart thermostat installation capabilities. The acquisition of Help-Link will accelerate our growth in this business and help us give our customers the complete and competitive service we know they want. We look forward to welcoming the Help-Link team to the HomeServe family.”
 
Warwick Ley, who has stepped down as Chairman following the exit by NorthEdge, says: “The HomeServe acquisition will be a landmark achievement reflecting the strength and quality of a rejuvenated Help-Link. It is a direct result of the most impressive business transformation I’ve had the privilege to be involved with, working alongside a wealth of talented and committed people introduced into the business over the last two years, and led by Richard Harrison. Full credit must also go to NorthEdge, who have provided outstanding investor support.”
 
GCA Altium advised NorthEdge and Help-Link throughout the recent transformational period, assisting management and NorthEdge to develop and execute the sale process and exit to HomeServe, coordinating all aspects of the transaction.
 
EY’s Transaction Advisory Services team assisted in the sale of the shares in Help-Link UK Limited from holding companies HIGHFLEX Limited and HIGHFLEX Holdings (UK) Limited.

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