Investment management group expands in biggest deal yet

Graham Pulford

Handl Group, the Chorley-based investment portfolio management company, has announced its biggest acquisition so far with the takeover of Ipswich-based IPRS Group (Injury, Prevention and Rehabilitation Services).

The deal, for an undisclosed sum, will further build its market presence in the health and wellbeing sector, said the Buckshaw Village firm.

It will see the four constituent IPRS brands become part of the Lancashire-based portfolio.

The move underlines chief executive Graham Pulford’s commitment to focus handl Group’s future on becoming a provider of a broad range of complementary services, incorporating people and technology, across different sectors.

IPRS Group is an independent specialist organisation offering a diverse range of clinical products and services to the public and private sectors.

CEO Martyn Jackson, who joined the business in 2004, has led the growth from a regional provider of Physio services to a multi-disciplinary operation.

IPRS Group, which achieved turnover of £17m in 2020, has four brands: IPRS Health – physiotherapy, mental health and wellbeing for the insurance, corporate, NHS and occupational health sectors; IPRS Mediquipe – distributing Biodex functional assessment, rehabilitation equipment and training to elite sports, universities and the NHS; IPRS Aeromed – supplier of paramedic-led, medical repatriation and other specialist services; and PFAS – independent provider of quality medical assessments delivered in house using specialist health practitioners.

All trade will continue under existing brands and all 300 IPRS Group staff will stay with the company. The senior management team will also remain in place and Martyn Jackson will remain as CEO, reporting to handl group CEO, Graham Pulford, and will continue to lead the company through the next stages in its evolution.

Graham said: “This is a significant growth opportunity that will give us additional scale and new distribution channels in private medical insurance (PMI), as well as elite sport, an IPRS Group specialism. It will also further cement the relationships handl Group currently has with the UK insurance industry.

“It is the biggest acquisition handl Group has completed to date, and we intend to support IPRS Group’s ambitious growth plans through additional investment, access to the skilled people at handl and also the acceleration of their already advanced digital offerings.”

He added: “The group already has a proven model of growth and is poised to further enhance its market presence following a number of contract wins this year, both renewals and new business. There will also be a definite opportunity to sell the unique services of IPRS to existing handl customers.”

He said IPRS Group worked with a number of blue-chip businesses, including Aviva and QBE in insurance, as well as Vitality, ATOS, SERCO, and increasingly the NHS.

“We intend to capitalise on the synergies in our existing health businesses, which provide health and rehabilitation services to the insurance and legal markets.”

Martyn Jackson said: “It was quickly apparent from my discussions with Graham and the team that handl Group will be the best possible custodian for our company and our clients.

“Their focus on people plus technology closely mirrors our own approach, and new investment in our capabilities as a result of this deal will take IPRS Group to a new level of growth.”

He added: “I am particularly excited by the opportunities for further work in the public sector, where our scale and strengthened capabilities and infrastructure will open up opportunities to bid for larger government contracts.”

The deal completed on April 8, 2022. Advisors included: The Franklin Advisory – lead buy-side advisor; CG Professional – buy-side legal advisor; Cowgills – buy-side financial & tax due diligence advisor; Grant Thornton – lead sell-side advisor; Birketts – sell-side legal advisor.