Findel acquired by French B2B commerce specialist

Chris Mahady

Hyde-based educational resources supplier Findel has been acquired by French group, Manutan.

The Paris-based group is an established player in European B2B ecommerce.

Manutan has a specialism in educational supplies and employs 2,200 people. It operates 28 subsidiaries across 17 European countries, including the UK.

The business offers more than 800,000 products to its customers and has a turnover of €946m. The company’s mission is ‘enterprising for a better world.’

Findel’s origins as an educational resources supplier can be traced back to 1817. Today, the company’s brands and websites offer more than 32,000 products to educators and parents based in the UK and overseas with the business exporting to 130 countries.

Findel made pre-tax profits of £4.67m on total turnover of £115.8m in the last financial year to March 2023. The usual number quoted in private equity valuations is EBITDA which Findel posted £10.3m.

Findel also has a distribution centre and offices in Nottingham and employs around 300 people.

The company’s brands comprise Hope, GLS, Davies Sports, Philip Harris, and EuHu.

Findel is widely recognised as a market leader within UK educational resources supplies.

The company’s current leadership team undertook a management buyout (MBO) of Findel from Studio Retail Group in April 2021, valued at £30m.

A deal to sell the business for a reported £50m to the local authority backed Yorkshire Purchasing Organisation (YPO) was blocked in June 2020 by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA).

The MBO from Studio Retail Group was supported by Leeds-based private equity firm Endless who are understood to have made a return of four times their initial investment.

Findel chief executive, Chris Mahady, said: “Over the past three years, Findel has undergone a business transformation thanks to the incredible work and dedication of our people and the support of Endless.

“Our acquisition by Manutan marks the end of that journey and the beginning of an even more exciting one. Like Findel, at the heart of Manutan are values and a positive culture that guides everything they do along with an unwavering commitment to sustainability.

“This gives Findel a long term sustainable home for the future which ultimately solidifies our position and will help us to continue to develop an even stronger customer proposition.”

He added: “In addition, Manutan’s leadership believes in fostering learning environments that inspire growth and innovation, so we are perfectly aligned.

“By joining forces, we will leverage our combined strengths in the UK and international educational supplies sectors to achieve even greater success together.”

All of Findel’s staff have been retained following the acquisition and all commercial arrangements with customers and suppliers remain unchanged.

Manutan Group owner and chairman, Xavier Guichard, said: “Following on from our strong growth in recent years, we’re delighted to be acquiring Findel, whose culture, focus on people, performance and shared values, is totally aligned with our own principles.

“We also share the same business model, which combines the strengths of digital technology – our e-commerce solutions – with a strong focus on sustainability, providing service excellence to customers and suppliers.”

Endless investment partner, Andrew Ross, added: “It has been an absolute pleasure working closely with Chris and the entire team at Findel. Working with a team who cares so passionately about what they do and, importantly, how they do it, was a real privilege. Our role in this partnership was to provide guidance and support to the management team to help them unlock the huge latent potential in the business.”

Findel was advised on the acquisition by Clearwater and Walker Morris and Manutan was advised by Cripps (legal) and PWC (finance and tax). All values relating to the acquisition are undisclosed.

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