Clearwater advises Laurel Management Services on sale


Midlands-based Laurel Management Services Ltd has been sold in an institutional buy-out at an enterprise value of £17.4 million.

Laurel, which has operations in the Midlands, the Home Counties and the South of England, has grown to be one of the top independent funeral operators in the UK, conducting over 5,500 funerals a year.

Since the acquisition in 1995, led by managing director, Graham Hodson, and backed by Aberdeen Murray Johnstone Private Equity (AMJPE) and 3i, Laurel has made a number of strategic acquisitions of strong regional funeral businesses and now has operations in the Midlands, Kent, Hertfordshire, Essex, Hampshire and Herefordshire.

AMJPE and 3i each initially invested £250,000. Subsequent funding financed the buy and build strategy culminating in a total AMJPE investment of £2.1 million by each of AMJPE and 3i. AMJPE and 3i have achieved a return of 2.8 x the cost of their investment and an IRR of 21.7 per cent.

Clearwater Corporate Finance plc’s Birmingham office negotiated and structured the deal advising 3i, AMJPE and the management team. The Clearwater team were partner Andy Moore and deal leaders Karen Edwards and Gareth Iley.

Hammonds in Birmingham advised 3i, AMJPE and the management team. The Hammonds team was led by corporate partner David Hull, assisted by corporate assistants Muneeb Dean and Jenny Hurford.

Graham Hodson, who will remain on the board of Laurel Management Services, commented; “This sale is the culmination of eight years of hard work by the whole team. The deal is excellent news for the shareholders and the employees who will benefit from the commitment of the new owners to build on the foundations in place to take the business forward.”

Andy Moore partner with Clearwater Corporate Finance said the deal was an excellent example of an institutional buy-out reaping returns for the investors and shareholders. “This is a highly regarded business with a strong management team who will go from strength to strength.”

Commenting on the deal, Mike Collis who negotiated the sale on behalf of AMJPE, said; “The management team has done a superb job in developing the business through carefully selected acquisitions, improving the profitability within the acquired operations and establishing Laurel as a major player in the UK funerals market.”

3i and AMJPE were also advised by Wragge & Co. Grant Thornton and Olswang (London) advised Sovereign Capital.