Pimpernel acquires competitor


Just months after a £25 million management buyout, Pimpernel International – the world’s leading manufacturer of table mats and coasters – has acquired competitor, Cloverleaf Group.

The deal, led and advised by the Midlands team at Clearwater Corporate Finance, has been funded by Pimpernel’s existing venture capital investors, 3i plc as well as Bank of Scotland’s Corporate Banking team in Nottingham, who provided acquisition finance and working capital facilities to the enlarged group.

Over the past three years Pimpernel’s profits have grown to over £3 million. It is a global business trading in over 70 countries and market leader in the massive US territory. Nearer to home its principal customers in the UK are the department stores including Debenhams, House of Fraser and John Lewis.

Cloverleaf, which is based in Swindon, is an equally well-known brand in the UK and has a network of its own retail outlets as well as concession outlets in major department stores. Its identity is however distinct from Pimpernel’s and thus the acquisition is complementary to both Pimpernel’s existing premium brand offering as well as its other value based brand, Manorcraft, which was acquired immediately after the buyout.

The same Clearwater team that advised on the Pimpernel MBO which took place in October last year also worked on the Cloverleaf acquisition. The management team at Pimpernel was led by Roger Crudgington, Pimpernel’s chief executive, and Mike Blakey, the company’s finance director.

Commenting on the deal Roger Crudgington said: “Cloverleaf represents a tremendous opportunity for us. It has an excellent product range and a customer base which will allow us to generate increased sales for our existing product range, and to broaden our product offering, and we are delighted to acquire it.

“Our intention is to transfer production from Swindon progressively during the next eight months, and to generate new manufacturing and warehousing space within the Consett area. This will not only help preserve employment prospects for our existing workforce, but will lead to the creation of a number of new positions.”

Mike Blakey adds: “We believe the businesses complement each other and we are confident that we can use the deal as a springboard for further growth both in the UK and in the crucial UK market.”

Richard Bishop, director of 3i in the Midlands said: “Pimpernel’s management always expressed a clear intention to grow through acquisition and we backed this plan from the beginning. We helped to deliver this plan by introducing chairman, Keith Jordan, with acquisition experience. The acquisition of Cloverleaf presents an excellent opportunity to become a market leader and realise the ambition of the management team.”

David Macdonald, director of structured finance with Bank of Scotland commented, “This is the first major acquisition for Pimpernel following their MBO last year and it is a huge step forward for them, providing them with an even stronger position in what is a growing market. For Bank of Scotland, this deal confirms our continued appetite to deliver innovative funding packages in the wider M&A arena, complementing our core MBO market, where we have established an unrivalled reputation over recent years.”