Southerns regional firms reunited

Leeds-based interiors specialist, Southerns, has acquired its namesake in Bolton, thanks to a significant investment by Yorkshire businessman Steve Parkin.

The new group will have a total of 70 employees across its sites and will have a national network of customers and contracts.

The deal brings the two businesses back together, following their divergence through separate management buyouts in 2006.

Parkin will own a significant minority stake in the new group, which comprises of Southerns (Yorkshire), Southerns (Bolton) and Ralf Capper Interiors based in Manchester. The North West businesses are managed by Andrew Walsh and Ben Capper.

The new group will have a combined turnover of £17.5m from serving clients that include Carillion, Bunzl and a number of Russell Group universities.

The acquisition comes after strong organic growth from the Southerns business and goes a long way to fulfilling the business' stated aim of doubling turnover in the next two to three years. The news coincides with the launch of Southerns new managed services proposition, TotalTM, which provides an outsourced whole life solution to design, fit and maintain FF&E projects.

Steve Parkin said: "I've known [Southerns founder] Andy Kendall-Jones for many years, and I've always admired the strength of his business. The business is run by an exceptionally strong senior management team, who have an excellent track record and have delivered consistent growth in turnover and profit. They have an enviable list of clients and have an extremely strong new business pipeline, with a unique strategy for growth."

"I've been approached by dozens of businesses over the years, looking for investment. However, with Southerns, I was the one to proactively approach Andy and his team. This is one of a number of investment opportunities for my private equity vehicle, Knaresborough Investments Ltd, and I'm keen to make further investments in similarly good businesses, primarily based in the Yorkshire region."

Andy Kendall-Jones, founder and principal of Southerns said: "We've grown Southerns into a well-respected and trusted FF&E specialist. With Steve's investment and business expertise, we've been able to accelerate our considerable organic growth, through the acquisition of Southerns (Bolton) and Ralph Capper Interiors Ltd. Both Southerns businesses share heritage, customer base and values. Ralph Capper adds another string to our bow, in terms of offering a high-end solution for our customers. The new group will be stronger together, expand our client base and promote shared expertise and knowledge, providing added value for our clients. Fundamentally, it will underpin our ambitious growth plans. Employees at all the sites are delighted with this news and will benefit from a stronger combined business."

The Southerns business has recognised and responded to significant changes in demand from several client areas, as well as an acknowledgement that FF&E plays an integral role in how a building is used, and even user productivity. This insight has prompted a change in strategic direction, which will facilitate further growth for the new group.

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