£60m logistics firm sold to US counterpart
A US-based logistics firm has swooped to buy a Northampton headquartered counterpart in a deal which provides an exit for private equity firm LDC.
AIT Worldwide Logisitics has bought Panther Logistics, the UK’s largest independent two-man home delivery firm. The company specialises in the retail and ecommerce sectors, with customers including Wayfair, Silentnight, Dunelm, Maze, Decathlon and Habitat.
LDC’s Midlands team originally invested in 2016 as part of a £17m management buyout, backing chief executive Colin McCarthy and his leadership team. The investment enabled the business to expand rapidly over the next four years with new services, locations and customers, whilst investing significantly in its technology platform, workforce and operations. LDC also helped strengthen the firm’s board and management team with the appointments of retail veteran Greg Ball as a non-executive chairman as well as Tony Nicholas as CFO and Gary McKelvey as COO.
During this time, the business created over 300 new jobs, doubled sales to more than £60m and tripled profits.
Chicago-based AIT is a global transportation management company, operating from more than 75 locations in Asia, Europe and North America. IT delivers tailored supply chain solutions for sea, air and ground freight with expertise in almost every industry sector. AIT’s financial partner is Quad-C Management, Inc., a leading middle-market private equity firm in the U.S.
The acquisition of Panther will enable AIT to expand its presence in the UK, with Panther’s current management team remaining in the enlarged group.
Colin McCarthy of Panther Logistics said: “The transaction is a “best of both worlds” outcome for the business, our customers and our people. We can retain our own identity and operating structure while benefitting from strong financial support and a broader offering for our customers as part of a global logistics player like AIT. We see enormous possibilities together especially with the acceleration in online retail, the growing importance of home delivery capabilities, and the increasingly complex and often global supply chain that sits behind the “final mile” operation for many our customers.”
He added: “The value AIT sees in Panther is testament to our partnership with LDC over these past four years. Together, we transformed the business, in terms of scale, operations and market position, whilst preserving what made us special. They backed me and my team to grow the business but provided the input we needed when making the big strategic decisions. That meant we were able to build a better, more resilient and ultimately more valuable business, in addition to the increased scale. They were a huge support to me personally and their network also helped us accelerate our growth with some important customer wins.”
“We’re now looking forward to growing Panther as part of AIT’s global business and helping them expand further into the UK.”
Rob Schofield, director in LDC’s Midlands team, said: “Panther has been a strong growth story for LDC and it has been a pleasure working with Colin and the team.
“Colin immediately came across as a highly capable and driven business leader when we first met him. He has built a high-quality management team, a great business and had real vision for Panther centred on superior service and responsiveness to the client – he just needed the capital and strategic support from a professional board to move forward at pace. This is a great example of how private equity investment can turbo-charge a business whilst staying true to its values and principles.”
He added: “We’re keen to back more businesses like Panther with the investment and support they need to realise their potential.”
The shareholders were advised by Arrowpoint Advisory and Eversheds Sutherland.