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Firm eyeing expansion in central belt

Optical chain Duncan & Todd hints at more acquisitions following £3.5m funding package

Patrick Graham and Frances DuncanDuncan & Todd, one of Scotland’s biggest independent optical chains, has hinted at buying more rival firms after securing a £3.5m financing package.

The follow-on investment from the Business Growth Fund (BGF), together with senior debt facilities from Royal Bank of Scotland, will fund the chain’s growth, including acquisitions.

Duncan & Todd, founded in 1973, recently snapped up 20:20 Opticians which has four sites in Edinburgh and two in Glasgow.  The acquisition will increase Duncan & Todd’s portfolio to 30 branches across Scotland and it is now looking to expand further into the central belt.

The BGF first invested £5.6m into Duncan & Todd in December 2013 when it took a minority stake. Since then, the optical chain has acquired Gunn & Galbraith, an independent optical store in Dunfermline and has completed a £1m upgrade of its manufacturing facility in Aberdeen to double its capacity. It will serve Duncan & Todd’s own retail stores as well as supplying lenses to other opticians and laboratories.  Following this latest investment, BGF remains a minority shareholder in the company.

Patrick Graham from BGF and Duncan & Todd director, said: “BGF is all about backing growing businesses and we saw that there was an opportunity in the optical market when we made our first investment at the end of 2013.

“Once we invest in a company we want to continue supporting management to grow their business so providing follow-on capital is a key part of our business model.  This is an excellent investment for Frances Duncan and her team and will provide a significant step-change to the Duncan & Todd business.”

Frances Duncan, Duncan & Todd managing director, said: “The funding from BGF has helped us to grow our business and the follow-on investment is now boosting our expansion across Scotland. We are very excited about the future. Having a material presence in the central belt with the strong brand name of 20:20 provides a great platform for the business to continue its expansion across Scotland.”

DLA Piper Scotland provided legal advice to the vendors with Aequitas providing corporate finance advice. CMS Cameron McKenna and Haines Watts Corporate Finance provided advice to Duncan & Todd. Maclay Murray & Spens provided legal advice to BGF.

Picture: Patrick Graham and Frances Duncan

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