Birmingham advisers queue up to complete MBO

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Qm Group, a leading provider of queue management systems, has changed ownership following the completion of a management buy-out, thanks to a group of Birmingham advisers.

The company, which currently employs 70 staff at its base in Milton Keynes, has been bought by a management team led by sales director Alistair Agnew and operations director Bernie Williams for an undisclosed sum.

Birmingham-based advisers Clearwater Corporate Finance, Lloyds TSB Corporate acquisition finance and Lloyds TSB Commercial Finance provided the funding to enable the deal to go ahead.

Clearwater acted for the vendors, while the MBO was supported by private equity firm Advantage Capital, which has taken a 38.5 per cent stake in the business.

Lloyds TSB Corporate acquisition finance and Lloyds TSB Commercial Finance provided senior debt and working capital facilities to support Advantage Capital.

Established in 1989 by founding directors Martin Christie and Terry Green, who will both remain on the board, the Qm Group has gone on to become one of the UK’s leading companies in its field, installing more than 5,000 call-forward systems and 40,000 barriers for its retail clients including Argos, Boots, Woolworths, Matalan, Tesco and the Post Office.

In 1993 it developed and installed ‘cashier number three please’ systems in the nation’s Post Offices.

More recently, it led the way in developing video queuing systems, which allows shoppers to use technology access information whilst waiting in line.

This technology has helped the company’s growth increase by 42 per cent to a turnover of £7 million in the 12 months leading to September 2004. Its projected turnover in the current financial year is expected to be in the region of £10 million.

Mr Agnew said: “This is an exciting time for Qm Group and the announcement is great news for the company, our clients and staff.

“This deal will allow us to build on the already impressive growth of the company, and as the marketplace continues to expand, we intend to remain as its leader.

“This will be thanks in no small part to the fact that we have retained the expertise of Martin as an inventor, maintaining our founding ethos to Invent and Innovate.”

Mr Agnew, along with Mr Williams, has become a joint managing director of the company following the MBO.

Finance director David Finch has also joined the board. David has an outstanding record of building shareholder value and will help steer Qm Group along the path of expansion and increased profitability.

James Ward, assistant director with Clearwater in the Midlands said: “Qm is a truly innovative business and we are delighted with the outcome of this deal which has been initiated and completed in less than eight weeks.

“The existing structure which combines the founders’ inventions and ideas with the management team’s future plans works perfectly and the MBO has ensured that this formula will continue.”

Andy Taylor, a director at Lloyds TSB Corporate acquisition finance, said: “Following the MBO the company is now in a strong position to enhance its market position thanks to the high level of expertise and experience that the management team possesses.

“Qm Group has been at the forefront of its industry for more than 15 years and the change of ownership will enable the company to continue to grow and develop as a business under the leadership of Alistair and Bernie.”