BGF – the UK and Ireland’s most active growth capital investor – has announced a highly successful exit of its investment in Uform, the market–leading Toomebridge-based manufacturer of kitchen doors and equipment.
Founded in 1993 by Eamon and Paul Donnelly, alongside their late father Eddie, Uform employs 415 people at facilities in Co. Antrim and Co. Donegal and delivers more than 1,500 kitchens per week to a growing, loyal and diverse customer base throughout the UK and Ireland.
Cardinal Ireland Partners, the Irish private equity growth fund managed by Cardinal Capital Group (“Cardinal”), has invested in Uform, with plans to scale the business. As part of the deal, BGF will re-invest alongside Cardinal and will continue to back the company as a minority shareholder.
BGF first partnered with Uform in 2019, when it made a multi-million equity investment in the business to enable founders Eamon and Paul Donnelly to accelerate the growth of the business. Following the investment by Cardinal, Eamon and Paul will remain on the Board of Uform and as significant shareholders alongside BGF.
As a result of BGF’s investment Uform has, over the last three years, invested in its production facilities and new state-of-the-art equipment, as well as significantly expanding its product range. This has enabled the business to achieve an annual growth rate of 40% and significantly expand its market share in the UK, Northern Irish and Republic of Ireland markets.
Beyond growth capital, BGF’s Talent Network – one of the largest groups of board-level non-executives in the UK and Ireland – also introduced Uform to non-executive chair Jim Meredith to provide additional strategic support.
Uform’s strong performance has continued this year as consumers continue to place increased value on kitchens post pandemic, with buyers favouring personalised, premium fitouts and replacing kitchens more quickly – all which Uform is ideally positioned to capitalise on.
Graham Clarke, investor at BGF, said: “It is fantastic to see Uform attracting new funding to support its ambitious future growth plans. Over the last three years, we have developed a strong relationship with the business and have worked together to deliver an impressive rate of year-on-year growth. Moving forward, we’re excited to be re-investing in the business and continuing our association with the company as it enters this next phase in its growth journey.
“We are also really pleased to be able to report our first significant exit in Northern Ireland. BGF was set up to back brilliant businesses that are looking to scale and that is exactly what Uform has done. The exit of our original investment has generated a return of greater than 2x with a strong IRR of 25%, which clearly demonstrates the high quality of entrepreneurs and businesses we are backing.”
Eamon Donnelly, co-founder of Uform, said: “We have built a very strong relationship with the BGF team, who from day one bought into our vision and strategy of where we want to take the business and provided invaluable support. The network BGF brings has opened many opportunities for us across the UK and Ireland and we are delighted that they will continue to remain invested in the company.”
Simon Oliphant, Group Managing Director of Uform, said: “Uform has always had the ambition and the ability to grow. We see very considerable opportunity in both the Irish and UK markets. We are really pleased that BGF will continue to be an investor as we strive to achieve those objectives.”
BGF has invested in six companies from Northern Ireland to date: Braidwater, RiverRidge, Audit Comply, Uform, Bob & Berts and Mzuri.
The new investment in Uform will be used to further increase the operating capacity of its 175,000–sq–ft facility in Toomebridge, Co Antrim and to increase capacity at its sister company Andoras in Donegal.
The transaction is subject to clearance from the Competition Authority.