Founding shareholders’ sale leads to expansion for heat pumps business

Chris Higgs, left, and Cllr Aidy Riggott

Preston based heat pump distribution company, Freedom Heat Pumps, is on course to treble its revenue over a two-year period.

The firm was recently acquired by Warrington-based Certas Energy, of the DCC Group, as part of its energy transition roadmap.

Managing director, Chris Higgs, says the acquisition represents a strong opportunity for continued growth from its Lancashire base.

The firm supplies customers across the UK with heat pump equipment as well as offering training and support, and opened a new 15,000 sq ft warehouse facility in Bamber Bridge last year, growing its staff numbers from seven to 25 over the past two years.

Mr Higgs said: “Up until the last few years, the company was very much a lifestyle business, but it has been transformed since around 2020.

“We doubled revenue in 2021 and we will be a further 50% up for 2022. We have gone from about seven staff in 2020 to 25 and we’re currently on a further recruitment drive. Eleven of the 13 new staff we are looking to appoint will be based in Lancashire.”

Freedom Heat Pumps received support last year from Boost, Lancashire’s Business Growth Hub through its fully-funded Growth Mentoring programme. Boost mentor, David Grant, advised Chris on leading the company’s transition from a lifestyle type business into a professional growing organisation and is continuing to support Chris with the firm’s expansion.

In addition to its Lancashire base, the company’s operations, finance team and 50% of the technical support team are based in Southampton.

Chris said Freedom Heat Pumps was now looking to continue its strong growth trajectory over the coming years through expansion opportunities across the UK.

He said: “The heat pump industry is continuing to grow and there is expected to be 600,000 heat pumps installed annually across the UK by 2028.

“Our recent acquisition gives us stronger avenues into much larger business opportunities and we are well positioned to take advantage of a range of new growth opportunities.”

County Cllr Aidy Riggott, cabinet member for economic development and growth, Lancashire County Council, said: “Freedom Heat Pumps is a real success story which Lancashire can be proud of.

“The company is growing nationally from its Lancashire base, employing local residents and supplying customers across the UK. I hope Lancashire County Council can continue to support Freedom Heat Pumps through our business support services as the company continues to grow.”

Freedom Heat Pumps approached Bolton-based KBS Corporate over the sale of the business, which would enable the retirement plans of the founding shareholders.

KBS said the company proved popular with trade and private equity, attracting numerous interested parties, resulting in an offer from UK trade buyer Certas Energy.

The sellers were advised by Tom Eatough of KBS Corporate Finance and Khurshid Valli and Hannah Serene of Gateley.

Tom Eatough, corporate director at KBS Corporate, said: “Completing a transaction in the midst of a turbulent economic and political backdrop presented its challenges, but Freedom is a high quality business in an exciting sector, and I am sure it will be a great success for both sides moving forward.”

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