A successful North East adaptive living business is going for growth after a change of ownership with the help of a six-figure investment from the North East Growth Capital Fund Supported By The European Regional Development Fund.
Dolphin Stairlifts (North East) and Shape Adaptations have been bought by Stephen and Mary Smith and brought together to form the new Depend Group, which will act as a one stop shop for elderly and disabled people who need assistance to continue living safely and independently in their homes.
The new owners worked with regional fund management firm NEL Fund Managers to secure a £150,000 Growth Capital Fund investment, which it will use to help increase the number of local authorities with which it can work, extend its marketing activity and develop and deliver new products to market.
Up to four new jobs are expected to be created as the business grows, while Stephen and Mary’s son Christopher has joined the business to run the Dolphin side of its operations.
Corporate finance advice on the transaction was provided by Michael Cantwell and Ayden De Beer of RMT Accountants & Business Advisors, while Mark Adams and Ben Jackson of the corporate team at Hay & Kilner Law Firm in Newcastle provided legal advice to the Depend Group.
Shape Adaptations was set up in 2007 as a result of Stephen and Mary having to make changes to their own home to meet the mobility and personal needs of their other son James, who uses a wheelchair, and realising there were many other families facing similar situations.
After working collaboratively with Dolphin Stairlifts, the North East’s leading independent supplier of stairlifts and mobility products, on a number of projects, Shape was acquired by Dolphin’s owner Bob Lines in 2012, with Stephen continuing to manage Shape’s operations ever since.
Based at the Newcastle Airport Industrial Estate, the new overarching business provides bespoke design, build, installation and maintenance services to several local authorities around the North East and North Yorkshire, and currently employs 17 staff.
It also works with a number of private clients, and acts as a designer and supplier of adaptive living products for national operators in the sector.
Stephen Smith says: “Taking advantage of the opportunity to take on both businesses and bring them together made clear sense and gives us a strong platform on which to build their operations by combining the teams’ impressive skillsets.
“We know from our own experience the challenges that individuals and facilities face in adapting their living spaces and the bespoke solutions we create in response to individuals’ particular situations are based upon many years’ practical experience.
“Our focus for growing the business will remain primarily on our home area, and while we already work with a number of local authorities across the North East, there are others that we’ve not previously had the capacity to target where we know the same needs exist.
“With Bob looking to retire, we examined the different growth funding options available and NEL’s early enthusiasm for our proposal made them stand out, with the excellent advice and support we had from both RMT and Hay & Kilner keeping everything moving along as we wanted.”
Jane Siddle, investment executive at NEL Fund Managers, adds: “The professional and personal experience that Stephen, Mary and Christopher bring to the business make a powerful combination, and it now has the resources required to continue to develop its presence across the region.”
Michael Cantwell, head of corporate finance at RMT Accountants & Business Advisors, adds: “We are delighted to have assisted Stephen and Mary with the MBO by structuring the transaction and securing the required funding.
“The two companies have built up impressive, long-term track records and we’re looking forward to supporting them to deliver their continued growth strategies.”
Mark Adams, partner in Hay & Kilner Law Firm’s corporate team, adds: “It has been a pleasure to work with the Smith family on realising their long-term business ambitions and helping them on the path towards sustainable commercial success with the combined operation.”
The North East Growth Capital Fund has been designed to create around 790 jobs in more than 70 regional firms over the life of the programme and offers unsecured investments of up to £500,000 to established businesses looking to realise their growth potential.
The overarching £120m North East Fund will provide financial support for more than 600 businesses, creating around 3,500 jobs and delivering a legacy of up to £80m for further investment into the region.
For more information on NEL’s investment criteria, visit www.nel.co.uk or contact the investment team on 0345 369 7007.