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UK sports equipment specialist acquired by ABEO Group

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French sports and leisure equipment designer ABEO has acquired an 80% stake in Sportsafe UK – a specialist in sports equipment maintenance – in a deal advised by BCMS.

Colchester-based Sportsafe UK inspects, services and installs sports and fitness equipment, serving more than 15,000 customer sites primarily in schools and universities. With around 90 employees, the company generates 60% of revenue from repair and maintenance contracts.

ABEO is a major player in the sports and leisure market – and supplied all the gym equipment for the Rio Olympics. Headquartered in France, ABEO generates 66% of sales outside its home market through a portfolio of strong brands – including Gymnova in the UK.

ABEO Group Managing Director Jacques Janssen said: “The UK is the group’s second and our sports division’s sixth largest market. Acquiring Sportsafe UK therefore gives us a chance to boost growth, both on the UK sports equipment market and in services. Like Janssen-Fritsen in the Netherlands and Adec in Belgium, the company has a very buoyant and successful UK services business that covers equipment inspection and maintenance.”

Sportsafe founder and CEO Jonathan Neill remains in charge of operational management, and added: “We have been growing very fast, doubling our turnover in the last two years. As we’re now looking at international markets, becoming part of a larger international group will help us accelerate our growth plans.

“Although we had several offers, ABEO is a market leader in our industry, and its growth strategy and culture fits in perfectly with where we are heading. This is a game-changer for us, and I would like to thank BCMS for helping us negotiate to get this deal over the line.”

BCMS acted as financial advisor to Sportsafe UK, with legal advice provided by the Worcester office of Harrison Clark Rickerbys.

BCMS Senior Deal Leader James Pugh commented: “Jon has built a fantastic business over the past 20 years, creating a genuinely innovative and transformational organisation with strong growth prospects, and he was a pleasure to work alongside throughout this transaction.

“While we generated strong interest from private equity, it was clear early on that a larger industry player with an established footprint outside the UK would be the best fit for both parties.”

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Posted Jan 2017
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