We led the £28 million management buyout of Stone Group, the leading independently-owned IT solutions provider in the UK supplying the education market and other public sectors, in April 2008. Our ability to deliver within the required tight timescale and our pragmatic approach to technical issues arising during the process won us the deal.
We were attracted to the opportunity to invest in a niche but growing business with robust barriers to entry. Stone stood out in the market for its outstanding reputation for customer service and its experienced and driven management team.
Since the buyout, the Staffordshire-based company has continued its successful development, launching its own recycling plant to enable it to offer a true cradle-to-grave service. It successfully consolidated its operations in April 2010 onto a new single-purpose site designed to provide room for further expansion.
Stone has gained a number of new accreditations recently, most notably from the OGC Buying Solutions – the largest buying organisation for the UK public sector. This development has enabled the company to break into the other markets. Stone was featured both in 2009 and 2010 in The Sunday Times Deloitte Buyout Track 100 league table, which ranks Britain’s mid-market private equity-backed companies with the fastest growing profits over the latest two years.
In May 2011, Stone signed a landmark deal to become a preferred supplier of customised Lenovo IT hardware to the education market in the UK. Lenovo is the fourth largest PC manufacturer in the world. The deal will enable Stone to enhance further its well-established reputation in the UK education market and extend its product portfolio to offer ‘tier one’ branded products, complemented by its own commitment to after-sales service and value-added configurations. Stone customers will be able to purchase Lenovo products including the popular ThinkPad Notebooks and ThinkCentre Desktop PCs.
During its investment period, we have been a pro-active and supportive investor, encouraging Stone to grow both through both bolt-on acquisitions (Stone acquired Rock Computers, one of the UK’s leading performance notebook manufacturers, in May 2008) and organic expansion.
In July 2010, we invested an additional £4.0 million in Stone to fund its growth plans and appointed Mark Weavis as non-executive chairman. Mark’s extensive experience and knowledge of supplying and working with the education sector through Teaching Personnel (another RJD investee company) will be of considerable strategic benefit to Stone, enabling the company to fully capitalise on the exciting opportunities facing the business.
To discuss Stone Group in more detail, please contact David MacLellan.