Buy and build consultancy project backed by NorthEdge makes first acquisition

Contollo team

Contollo, new building consultancy consolidator, has been backed by private equity investor NorthEdge and has made its first acquisition, the first to be advised by the fledgling corporate finance team at market disruptor Alvarez and Marsal. 

NorthEdge is backing former Fishawack founder Oliver Dennis, as executive chair, and Ruth Percival as chief executive, who both bring significant M&A and Private Equity experience in the professional services sector to build the platform.

Contollo describes itself as a built environment consultancy group, and is embarking on a UK-focused buy and build strategy, as demand for tech-enabled smart buildings surges due to regulatory pressure on developers and market demand from building owners.

The first deal to acquire Abacus, a Manchester-based cost management consultancy, sees its founder Ellis Goodfellow join Contollo as chief commercial officer.

According to abbreviated accounts filed in 2022 the business employed 24 people.

Its recent clients include Vita Student Living, Sunderland AFC and Bolton Wanderers FC. 

Ruth Percival, Contollo

Percival told that her and Dennis, who she worked with at medcomms consultancy Fishawack, had looked at a few business projects, including setting up venture investment club Lasker Trap together.

“We’ve looked at a few different things, but this gives us an opportunity to bring together a group of really lovely, decent and dedicated people in a sector where the financials really stack up too,” she said.

She said they are looking to build a national professional services platform that will make make up to nine acquisitions over 3 years, with four scheduled to be made in 2024. 

She added: “Our mission is to build a market-leading, integrated building consultancy that helps our clients achieve their Net Zero ambitions in the built environment. This acquisition lays a robust foundation of experience and expertise for further acquisitions and growth.”

Oliver Dennis, Executive Chair of Contollo, added “Alongside completing our first acquisition, we are delighted to be partnering with NorthEdge to support us both financially and strategically on this journey. I am confident that our combined experience will enable us to build a leading UK professional services consultancy that improves sustainable outcomes in the built environment.”

The deal was funded from the NorthEdge SME Fund I and led by Ray Stenton, Managing Partner; Liam May, Director; Matthew Mellon, Investment Manager; and Sam Allen, Investment Manager. Liam May will join the board on behalf of NorthEdge.

Liam May, Director at NorthEdge said “This investment brings together a number of NorthEdge’s focus areas: Contollo is another example of a regionally-based company with national reach; our Business Services sector team have been tracking the built environment for a number of years; the investment strategy is highly aligned with our ESG and sustainability commitments; and Contollo represents another buy and build investment in our portfolio following the successful completion of a number of bolt-on acquisitions to accelerate growth across the portfolio over the last decade.

Financial advisers to Contollo were Alvarez and Marsal, the legal team on the deal was Mike Murphy and Phil Wallbank from Hill Dickinson.

Top picture, left to right: Ellis Goodfellow, Abacus; Paul Jackson, Abacus; Matthew Mellon, Investment Manager, NorthEdge; Ruth Percival, chief executive, Contollo; Mike Perry,  Abacus and Director, Contollo; Liam May, NorthEdge; and Oliver Dennis.

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