RSL Group sold to IPCOM

RSL Group – a UK and Ireland-based wholesale distributor of industrial and commercial refrigeration solutions – has been acquired by IPCOM, the leading distributor and converter of technical insulation across Europe. Corporate finance advisor BCMS advised the shareholders of RSL Group throughout the transaction, which completed in March 2024.

“We’re so happy with the outcome, and, as our advisor, BCMS made it all possible. We were totally in the dark about how a business sale works, and most certainly could not have achieved this without their calm, professional advice” – Gerry McDonagh, RSL

RSL Group, originally known as Refrigeration Spares Ltd (RSL UK), was founded in London in 1946. The Irish business was established in 1967, and RPL Northern Ireland joined the group in 1999. Today, the group operates from a network of 10 depots located in Dublin, London, Manchester, Belfast, Cork, Galway, Glasgow, Coventry, and Exeter.

RSL Group has a workforce of over 50 people and achieves sales exceeding €20 million. The business collaborates with leading manufacturers to deliver high-quality products and support across various industrial sectors. This commitment ultimately contributes to the sustainable success of its customers. In addition to its extensive product inventory, RSL Group’s key differentiator is its value-added technical advisory services, with skilled engineers focused on offering technical scoping and recommendation of systems and products to customers. The group’s focus on state-of-the-art solutions and responsive customer service has contributed to strong financial performance.

IPCOM, headquartered in Belgium, is an ambitious and fast-growing European group of companies, specialising in the distribution and conversion of innovative solutions for thermal insulation, high-temperature insulation, passive fire protection and acoustic insulation. IPCOM’s customers are installers, international contractors, wholesalers and OEMs in a wide range of industries and markets. IPCOM employs over 1500 people and delivers its solutions through a network of over 80 outlets across 18 countries in Europe.

As a result of this transaction, Seamus Kerr has been promoted to the position of Managing Director of the entire RSL Group. He said: “The RSL team is very excited about joining the IPCOM Group. Over many years, our team has been servicing our customers with extensive know-how, engineering capabilities and a dedication for top quality service. This fits perfectly with IPCOM’s focus on distributing and fabricating tailor-made energy efficiency solutions. Together, we can create an even stronger company that will create great opportunities for our customers and employees.”

Transaction perspectives

Commenting on the transaction, RSL Group’s previous co-owner David Cherrill said: “Refrigeration Spares Limited, the first of the RSL Group companies, was founded by my father, Alfred, in 1946. I have been proud to lead the RSL team in UK since 1965 while working alongside Gerry McDonagh and his successful team in Ireland.

“The RSL Group has continued to grow over the years thanks to the efforts of everyone on the RSL team. I would like to thank our loyal staff, our long-standing suppliers and not least our customers for all the support that Gerry and I have enjoyed over the years and assure them that the RSL staff they have got to know are still there to serve you.”

“We’d like to acknowledge the BCMS team for their guidance, expertise and support. It is no exaggeration to say their drive and commitment really made this deal happen.” – David Cherrill, RSL Group

Alongside corporate finance advice from BCMS, the shareholders of RSL Group received legal advice from Freeths. Commenting on the advisors’ role in the transaction, David Cherrill added: “We’d like to acknowledge the BCMS team for their guidance, expertise and support throughout the transaction. It is no exaggeration to say their drive and commitment really made this deal happen. Selling any business is challenging and complex – particularly one you have seen grow and change over decades. BCMS are an exceptional team, and throughout our partnership we have remained impressed with their professionalism. Thank you to all at BCMS and Freeths, who have been formidable as our legal advisors, for guiding us through.”

Gerry McDonagh, previous co-owner of RSL Group, commented: “We are delighted that the RSL Group will become part of the IPCOM Group. We feel that with IPCOM the RSL team will continue to grow and provide excellent customer service in the cooling and heating sectors. With energy savings and environmental improvements becoming increasingly important RSL and IPCOM will form a perfect partnership providing new solutions.”

Gerry added: “IPCOM take a long-term view, and under their ownership, the business can expand at a far faster rate, and provide multiple opportunities for our committed staff. We’re so happy with the outcome, and, as our advisor, BCMS made it all possible. We were totally in the dark about how a business sale works, and most certainly could not have achieved this without their calm, professional advice, steering us around all the potential pitfalls. As a team, they’re a great combination. From detailed financial analysis to face-to-face negotiations, we knew they always had our best interests in mind.”

Market opportunities and strategy

Remco Boerefijn, CEO IPCOM Group, explained the rationale behind the transaction: “Expanding our market share in the wider HVAC sector is a strategic priority for the development of the IPCOM Group. It is our ambition to move towards offering a broad range of energy efficient solutions for installers, asset owners and OEM customers. Therefore we are delighted that RSL Group is joining our group.”

BCMS’ Rob Goulding commented: “It is always a privilege to represent a client which stands out in its sector for providing a first-class customer service and genuine expert advice built up over many decades. This has led RSL Group to providing the latest refrigeration technology solutions for numerous high-profile names in the retail, pharmaceutical, electronics, medical, and food & drink manufacturing sectors.

“The refrigeration and HVAC sector has seen significant changes, including legislation-led market drivers for installing increasingly energy-efficient refrigeration and heating technology solutions. Innovations such as cooling with natural refrigerants and energy-efficient heat pumps will mean this market is set to experience significant growth in the coming years. In IPCOM, we were delighted to find a new entrant to this area of the market, who also has an impressive track record of acquiring and building businesses, and so is an ideal home for RSL Group.

“This is an important, transformative transaction for the refrigeration & HVAC sector in the UK and Ireland, and we of course wish David, Gerry, Seamus and the whole IPCOM and RSL teams every success for the future.”

Previous BCMS-led refrigeration deals include sales of client businesses to buyers including Star Refrigeration, Toshiba Carrier, Refco of Switzerland, and HRP (now part of the Beijer Ref group).

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