Ellis Whittam seeks acquisitions after investment

Ellis Whittam seeks acquisitions after investment

Business services firm Ellis Whittam has secured investment from mid-market private equity investor LDC, to accelerate organic growth and to fund future acquisitions.

The business, which provides advisory and fully-outsourced employment law, HR and health & safety services, was founded in 2004 by Chester solicitor Mark Ellis. It supports more than 10,000 UK employers, including Pure Gym, Culina Logistics, Red Letter Days, The Chartered Management Institute, The Chartered Quality Institute and Toni & Guy.

For the financial year ending April 2016, Ellis Whittam generated sales of over £11m and profits (EBITDA) of over £3m. It currently employs 165 staff from its headquarters in Aldford, near Chester, including fully-qualified solicitors as employment law advisors and professionally qualified health and safety consultants, and over the next four years expects to create up to 100 new jobs.

The business has grown successfully under the leadership of Ellis as chairman and Deven Thakrar as CEO for the last seven years. This deal, in which LDC takes a minority stake, sees Ellis continue to lead the business and remain as a major shareholder as he steps into the role of CEO.

Ellis said: "Over the past decade we have supported countless businesses, associations, schools, colleges, charities and local councils in meeting their legal obligations as employers and supporting the wellbeing of their staff, which has allowed owners and managers to focus on their core business activities.

"In LDC we’re confident we have the right partner to deliver the next phase of our journey, as the team fully understands our vision to be the UK’s best fixed-fee professional support business. We have a shared ambition and the partnership will help us to bring our expertise to many more management teams throughout the UK."

The transaction was led by investment director Richard Ibbett and director and co-head of LDC in the North West Johnny Bell, who will both join the board of the business.

Ibbett added: "People remain at the heart of all employers and organisations are increasingly looking externally for specialist HR and health & safety support that can reduce overheads, but also better manage their legal, people and safety agenda.

"Since Mark founded the company, Ellis Whittam has built an offering that delivers just that and has become an integrated and critical support function for thousands of employers. We look forward to working with the team as it eyes new opportunities to expand."

The transaction marks the fifth deal in just four months for LDC’s Manchester office. In May, it supported the management buyout of fast-growing cloud IT and communications solutions provider Giacom.