Growth fund BGF has invested £5 million (€5.8m) in Ballymena-based specialist facade provider Clarke Group as the company seeks further growth across the UK and Ireland.
The investment will provide Clarke with working capital as it expands. The family-owned business, which was founded in 1996, engages in innovative design-led facade projects, with an end-to-end service that has attracted a number of blue-chip construction industry clients such as Berkeley, Morgan Sindall and Balfour Beatty. In 2022 it had revenues of almost £30 million, with the company growing an average of 25 per cent a year since 2018.
Eugene Clarke, managing director of Clarke, said the funding was only part of the story, with access to BGF’s network proving invaluable. “With increased regulation regarding the fire safety of high-rise buildings post-Grenfell, the demand for safe and sustainable facades and cladding has increased. Our market-leading designs and sector-experienced team mean we’re fast becoming the partner of choice for top tier construction firms across the UK,” said Mr Clarke said. “It was important for us to find an investment partner that could provide not only capital, but also expertise at board level to support the company as it scales.”
Adrian Ringrose has been appointed non-executive chair of the business, introduced to Clarke through BGF’s Talent Network.
“The UK facade market dynamics are extremely strong and double-digit sector growth will be underpinned in the long term by fire safety and ESG-related demand. We believe the business is perfectly primed to take further market share in the coming years,” said Chris Nixon, investor at BGF.
BGF was set up in 2011 by Barclays, HSBC, Lloyds Banking Group, NatWest and Standard Chartered in the wake of the financial crisis as an independent company with the aim of making up to £2.5 billion (€2.9bn) of equity investments in SMEs. It has since invested more than £3 billion in over 450 companies. It has invested around £65 million into Northern Irish businesses.
The company began operations in Ireland in late 2017. Supported by the Ireland Strategic Investment Fund and three banks, BGF backs Irish companies with investments normally ranging between €1 million and €10 million. Among its recent investments were €12.5 million in Galway-based food supplement maker Revive Active, announced in June, and a minority stake in the Dublin Meat Company in return for a figure understood to be about €10 million.