Facelift was founded by Gordon Leicester in Hickstead, Sussex in 1986 when he was just 21 years old and bought a Simon D50 truck-mounted platform to help with building maintenance work. From this, a hire business grew to a fleet of more than 700 machines and annual revenues of £12m. It is a top 20 player in the general UK powered access rental market and particularly prominent for its high-reach truck-mounted platforms. Now aged 54, Gordon Leicester is cashing in.
AFI’s fleet of 7,500 platforms in the UK and Middle East make it much larger than Facelift but the acquisition substantially strengthens AFI’s offering in the self-drive truck and van mounted platform markets and is seen as a good geographic fit to Wilson, AFI’s existing truck-mounted business.
Annual revenue for the enlarged group will be more than £100m.
AFI plans to retain and develop the Facelift brand, with Facelift managing director Paul Standing joining the AFI board.
To help fund the deal, AFI has sold a minority stake to Pricoa Private Capital, which is investing £60m through a combination of debt and equity. Former private equity owners Rutland Partners have been bought out and the AFI management team, led by chief executive David McNicholas and chairman David Shipman, have bought majority ownership back.
AFI was unwilling to disclose the price it paid for Facelift or the size of the stake in AFI-Uplift taken by Pricoa. It was prepared only to disclose that 'the overall deal size for the combined transactions totals in the region of £160m'.
David McNicholas said: “We are really pleased to be adding the Facelift business and a strong team of experienced people to the group. It’s a complementary fit to our existing business, allowing us to consolidate our position in the truck-mounted access market and strengthen our self-propelled mobile elevating work platform business. We are excited to welcome Pricoa as our new financial backer, knowing that they share our vision for the potential to develop the business from here. We are hugely grateful for the support and advice from Rutland, which has allowed us to achieve a significant amount over the last six years.”
Gordon Leicester said: “The Facelift business has been built over 30 years and this deal will see AFI continue to support the business in the next stage of its development.”
Rutland Partners partner Oliver Jones said on bowing out: “We have enjoyed a successful relationship with the team at AFI over the past six years and are pleased that we have been able to support the business to double in size, and broaden its service offering and geographic footprint since our original investment. We wish David and his team all the best for the future.”