Private equity fund swoops for established fire protection business

Private equity firm, IK Partners, has confirmed its IK Small Cap III Fund has agreed to acquire passive fire protection specialist, Checkmate Fire, from YFM Equity Partners.

IK is making its first UK investment from the Fund’s dedicated pool of Development Capital.

The existing management team will be reinvesting alongside IK. Financial terms of the transaction are not disclosed.

Established in 1989 and headquartered in Elland, Checkmate provides a range of passive fire protection services to organisations across the Healthcare, Education, Government, Social Housing and Commercial sectors.

The company inspects, installs, remediates and maintains passive fire systems and also provides installation and maintenance of active fire systems.

Checkmate operates across the UK and has over 200 employees. It is responsible for maintaining passive fire systems in around 2,000 buildings nationally to ensure compliance with increasingly stringent regulations, carrying out over 30,000 fire door remediations or replacements per year.

Since YFM’s investment and under the existing management team, Checkmate has scaled rapidly, expanding its service offering and supporting more customers in managing their passive fire systems through multi-year contracts.

In partnership with IK, Checkmate will look to further develop its passive fire offering, particularly its inspections division.

It will also continue to invest in its people and technology to enhance operational efficiency, while executing a targeted M&A strategy.

John Lewthwaite, CEO at Checkmate, said: “We are very much looking forward to working with IK after a successful partnership with YFM.

“IK’s track record of supporting businesses in the fire protection market, combined with our position as UK’s leading passive fire specialist, means we are best placed to drive future growth in a market with attractive dynamics.”

Simon May, partner at IK and advisor to the IK SC III Fund, said: “This is an exciting first investment for the IK Development Capital strategy in the UK.

“Under the stewardship of John and his team, Checkmate has established itself as a high-quality provider in a rapidly growing and increasingly regulated market.

“We have been impressed with the company’s journey to date and see plenty of opportunities for continued growth.”

Steve Harrison, partner at YFM Equity Partners, added: “It has been an absolute pleasure working with John and the entire team at Checkmate since we first invested in 2018.

“The business has seen rapid growth and development during this period, establishing itself as the leading player in the UK passive fire protection market.

“We wish Checkmate the best of luck for the future with the support of IK.”

Clearwater International was the adviser to Checkmate Fire on its sale to IK Partners.

The Clearwater International transaction team consisted of partner Richard Goldsack, directors James Croxen and Glenn Clarke, associate director John Haygarth, senior associate Arush Manchanda and associate Daniel Nota.

Goldsack said: “It was a pleasure advising the shareholders of Checkmate Fire on this transaction.

“With IK Partners, the business has an investor with a track record of supporting businesses and helping them deliver the next stage of growth, through investing in people, processes and strategic M&A to further develop new and existing service lines.

“We are delighted to have worked with John and the team to find the right investor, we wish them all the best in the future.”

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