SALE OF ENGLISH LANDSCAPES OPENS NEW CHAPTER IN SIXIS GROUP Monday 7 April 2008 PDF Print One of the UK’s fast emerging lights in the investment marketplace, Harvey Alexander, has this week concluded a deal which reaffirms his business acumen in being able to identify and develop business and investment opportunities. The sale of English Landscapes to Elysian Capital LLP which backed a management buy-out was led by English Landscapes’ CEO, Operations MD and Commercial Director and follows a major step change in the fortunes of the business under the guidance and leadership of Harvey Alexander When English Landscapes was acquired by Harvey Alexander just two years ago, it was making a seven figure loss. However, by bolstering the management team and restructuring the organisation, loss quickly turned into profit and within just over a year the business was producing seven figure profit levels with forward order books of £150 m and a 50% increase in annual turnover. It is an achievement of which Harvey is extremely proud. He commented: “The team did a fantastic job and well ahead of schedule. The company is now one of the UK’s leading independent providers of landscaping and horticultural services to the public and private sector, employing over 600 staff, with revenues of £45 million. It’s in an excellent position to continue growing – especially with the Olympics on the horizon and I wish the new management every success. The sale of English Landscapes is one of just a number of shrewd business moves by Harvey, who has bought and sold a portfolio of companies over the last 30 years. Harvey attributes his business success to a number of factors, not least his talent of being able to recognise a good investment opportunity and realising the potential in a deal within various sectors of business and industry. Over the years he has built up a consistent track record of ensuring businesses in a broad range of industry bear fruit. He has true entrepreneurial flair and a goldmine of experience in turning failing businesses round, starting up new opportunities and reassigning development capital for new, exciting projects. It is a market in which Harvey comes into his own, but one which he acknowledges is becoming increasingly more difficult with the government putting barriers in place which he believes could discourage some of the entrepreneurial flair and talent in Britain today. Indeed one of the influencing factors which led Harvey to sell English Landscapes when he did were the latest CGT changes although he acknowledges that business is all about timing and he seized the opportunity irrespective of external factors. That said he does believe that the latest changes have already made their mark with a number of businesses either being sold or trying to be sold and the new 18% tax means they will all look carefully at the types of business they get involved with. Harvey commented: “Whilst we are committed to an ongoing programme of investment, we will from our own point of view be looking very hard at the types of company we buy, and the sectors they operate in. At 18% it is easier to hold an asset-based company rather than a people based one. At one point our group had up to 4000 staff.” Certainly the change in the current business climate has encouraged Harvey and his team to realign their portfolio and all investment now sit under a new group umbrella brand, SIXIS which not only provides a recognisable identity in a challenging market, but also lays the foundation to take advantage of opportunities in this economic cycle. He continued: “Our philosophy has always been to seek out companies that have great potential, but need strong management and investment to turn the corner. “We make sure our management teams can share in the rewards, and empower them to do the job well. With English Landscapes, for example, we put Martin Hunt in, and he has done a great job. Elysian has the pedigree and resources to deliver even greater growth in the next few year. It is a great partnership – so much so that we will be investing a considerable amount in the Elysian fund.” The sale of English Landscapes is yet another chapter in Harvey’s ongoing business success story spanning some 25 years. Harvey’s early career started in the contract cleaning market, taking over management of the family firm Blue Diamond and building it into one of the largest independents in the UK. As the business developed, the company embarked on investing in a wide portfolio of companies, installing strong management teams and actively seeking new sales opportunities. These companies included BD-1 Services (telecoms and data backup solutions), ASAP Protection (security), Wesurail (rail wash plant manufacturing and depot maintenance), Labour Source (recruitment), with offices in Poland and the UK) and Green Health Services (medical and fitness) – all operating under the SIXIS group. Editor’s Note: The sale of English Landscapes to Elysian Capital LLP is Elysian’s first deal in its specialist focus area of UK mid-market private equity. The deal was led by Ken Terry and Edward Brett on behalf of Elysian; while the management buy-out was led by Martin Hunt, Mark Oliver and Peter Holland. Elysian’s Non-Executive Director Chai Patel, who has substantial first hand experience of growing and developing business private equity, will join the board as Chairman. Established in January 2008, Elysian specialises in investing in the mid-market in the UK with deal values of between £10m and £70m. 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