Empteezy founder sells company to MBO team

Bruce Wishart: founder

Bruce Wishart, founder of Empteezy, a Livingston-headquartered designer, manufacturer and distributor of industrial safety products and solutions, has sold the £45m-turnover company to a management buy-out team.

The buy-out has been backed by London-based private equity firm Chiltern Capital and led by CEO David Byrne and CFO Jon Hazlewood. The team will be further bolstered by the introduction of Warwick Ley as chair. 

Chiltern Capital will support the team in delivering its plans to broaden Empteezy’s product and service offering and make further funding available for targeted M&A. 

Mr Wishart, who owned all the equity in the business, established Empteezy more than 30 years ago and while terms of the deal were not disclosed he is expected to benefit substantially.

Since then it has grown into a pan-European operator with 250 employees serving a range of blue-chip customers from sites across the UK, France, Spain, Germany, Italy and Belgium.

Most of the employees are in Livingston and there are not thought to be any plans to downsize the payroll.

It is currently focused on environmental protection, spill prevention and EV battery storage. 

For the year ended 31 October 2021 the company posted a pre-tax profit of £3.5m, against £2.1m in the previous year, on turnover of £44.6m compared to £37.4m in the year before.

Mr Wishart commented: “Passing the company on to the existing management was a natural decision, the hard part was finding the right partner to assist with this.

“Chiltern impressed with their supportive approach from the start and the introduction of David Byrne CEO and Jon Hazelwood CFO with Warwick Ley as chairman gives me full confidence in a bright future. I look forward to supporting them going forward.”

Mr Byrne, commented: “It has been 36 years since Bruce launched Empteezy, and the quality of people, strength of the brand and the breadth of the product range, made my decision to join and steer the business, a very easy and exciting one. Working very closely with Chiltern on that journey was also a very attractive proposition.”

David Butler, Investment Director at Chiltern Capital, added: “Bruce should be incredibly proud of the legacy that he has built, and we feel privileged to be able to support David, Jon and the rest of the management team with their plans for the next chapter. 

“Due to the ever-increasing need for corporates to address their ESG responsibilities, the importance of a company like Empteezy cannot be overstated.”

Chiltern was advised by RSM (Financial DD), Calash (Commercial DD and Environmental DD), PHD Property (Property DD) and Squire Patton Boggs (Legals). Bruce Wishart was advised by Aequitas (Corporate Finance) and Vialex (Legals). Management were advised by DWF.

Keith Anderson, CEO of Vialex said: “Bruce Wishart has built an impressive business with an international reach, and I am sure it has a great future under its new ownership.

“It is a privilege to be involved in a Scottish manufacturing success story and to work alongside James Rodger (Aequitas) and Bruce to achieve an exciting outcome for all concerned.”

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