Clearwater advises shareholders on sale of Gill Marine

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YFM Equity Partners has backed the management buy-out of Douglas Gill International (Gill), the Nottingham based manufacturer of technical sailing clothing and accessories, for an undisclosed sum following a sales process led by Clearwater Corporate Finance. Yorkshire Bank provided debt funding and working capital facilities to support the deal.

As part of the deal, Steve Richards will be joining Gill as non-executive chairman. He is currently Chairman at QualitySolicitors and Waterbabies and was previously CEO of Interflora and Managing Director of Manchester United Merchandising. The management team includes: Managing Director John Deverill who has been with Gill for 16 years; Sales Director Bryan Stewart and Product Director Matt Clark.

Gill was founded in 1975 by Nick Gill, who will continue as a non-executive director. Nick began designing and making technical sailing clothing from his father’s lace factory in Nottingham. Today the company has revenues of £12m and employs 44 people at its Long Eaton site. It manufactures a wide range of sailing clothing and accessories which it exports to over 35 countries and it is the official technical clothing sponsor for the internationally renowned Aberdeen Assets Cowes Week Regatta. Last year Gill won the Queen’s Award for Enterprise: International Trade with exports reaching over 70% of turnover.

Commenting, Paul Cannings, Director at YFM Equity Partners said: “This is a strong management team that has delivered growth for the past three years in a difficult retail market. With our financial and strategic support we will help the team develop the brand further and increase its market share in existing and newer markets.”

John Deverill, Managing Director Gill, said: “It has been a great pleasure to work with Nick and the team as we developed Gill into a premier international brand of sailing apparel. With Steve, Bryan, Matt and the team at YFM Equity Partners we are excited by the opportunity to continue to develop and invest in the brand and increase our international market share.”

Mark Taylor, partner, and John Davies, assistant director, from Clearwater’s Debt Advisory team worked closely alongside YFM and management in delivering funding and working capital facilities to support the deal. Facilities were provided by Yorkshire Bank, led by directors Ian Howey and Ian Mansell of Yorkshire Bank Acquisition Finance in the Midlands.

Ian Mansell, Business Development Director at Yorkshire Bank, said: “YFM and Gill have high aspirations for this globally-recognised brand and, with our support, now have all the elements required to further develop their products and reach new international markets. The partnership delivers a strong management team, an enviable brand reputation, and the financial backing to succeed in a niche and highly competitive global marketplace. It is also a strong example of the sort of business which will continue to drive the UK’s economic growth.”

Gareth Iley, Head of Consumer at Clearwater, said: “The Gill brand has a rich heritage and is globally recognised for its technical excellence and innovation. It has achieved impressive growth with limited resources which we believe can be accelerated with the funding from YFM and Yorkshire Bank, given the international growth opportunities available.”

Ian Waterfield and Paul Cannings were the YFM Equity Partners deal team. Phil Burns, Gareth Iley and Sebastian Saywood of Clearwater Corporate Finance advised the shareholders on the deal; Grant Thornton provided financial due diligence while legal advice was provided by Osborne Clarke. Nelsons provided legal advice to the vendors, Fraser Brown advised the management team and Gately advised Yorkshire Bank. Tax advice was provided by RSM Tenon.