Renewables supplier Solfex sold for £8m

A LANCASHIRE company, a specialist distributor of high quality renewable energy systems, has been snapped up by listed building materials group Travis Perkins for an initial £8m.

Solfex Energy Systems, based on Charnleyfold Industrial Estate, Bamber Bridge near Preston, was founded in 2006 by Stuart and Susan Cooper. Sources close to the deal say the total transaction value could reach £30m.

It took on external investment in September 2011 from Panoramic Growth Equity and over the last three years has generated a cumulative annual revenue growth rate of 179%.

In December 2012, it was listed as the UK’s fifth fastest growing private company in the Sunday Times Virgin Fast Track 100.

As well as distributing renewable energy systems, Solfex provides comprehensive technical and customer support.

In its last financial year, Solfex achieved revenues of £21.9m and an operating profit of £2.2m.  Initial cash consideration was £8m with further amounts due depending on performance.

Travis Perkins chief executive Geoff Cooper said: “Solfex is a valuable addition to the Plumbing and Heating Division of the Travis Perkins Group.  

“Our strategy of offering our customers an integrated approach to energy efficient building will be greatly enhanced by the market leading proposition created by the Solfex team.”

Solfex has just 15 staff and is led by founder and managing director Stuart Cooper. It supplies installers, building merchants, housing associations and large scale renewable scheme developers.

It offers a broad product range including Solar PV, Solar Thermal, Heat pumps and launched an under-floor heating range in early 2013.

The sale has generated an initial rate of return of 62% for Panoramic, in just 16 months since it invested £1.25m into the business, and this is expected to rise to 120% after the earn-out.

Malcolm Kpedekpo, partner at Panoramic, comments: “This is a great result for Panoramic as it represents the first exit from our first fund which held its final close in September 2010 at £34m.

“Solfex is a fantastic business that has achieved impressive growth in a short timeframe and is a shining example of a management team who know their market inside out.”

Stuart Cooper, added: “Panoramic has proved to be an excellent investment partner, providing us with the financial backing and business expertise that has enabled the business to achieve substantial growth, tripling the size of our team and significantly increasing revenues.”

Ali Sharifi a partner in the Manchester office of Grant Thornton advised the shareholders on the deal.