Pictured are Simon Oliphant, Paul Donnelly and Eamon Donnelly from Uform.

Ex-Canburg investor takes stake in Uform

County Antrim-based Uform has said it has secured a “multimillion-pound” investment from the £2.5 billion British Growth Fund (BGF) and Danske Bank.

BGF, which was set up by five of the UK’s largest banking groups in 2011 to support growing companies and ambitious entrepreneurs, has taken a minority stake in the Toomebridge kitchen furniture and components manufacturer.

Uform said it will use the investment to grow its market share in the UK, Northern Ireland and Republic of Ireland.

BGF’s portfolio included Canburg, the former owner of Mark Wilkinson Furniture and Smallbone of Devizes, until the struggling business was bought by a US investment firm last December.

BGF was also an investor in national bathroom retail chain Better Bathrooms but failed to turn the business around. In its financial accounts to end of March 2017, its pre-tax losses had widened by 362% to £1.8 million. Better Bathrooms was bought by holding group Roxor in October last year.   

Eamon Donnelly, Uform chief executive, (pictured above far right) said BGF was a “good match” for Uform, which supplies more than 1,000 kitchens a week to a range of independent retailers through its consumer brand, Kitchen Stori.

“They have bought into our vision of where we want to take the business and the network they bring has opened up many opportunities not just here, but also across Great Britain.

“Their experience will ensure they help us scale the business, enhance our operational competencies and align our strategic plan to achieve the next few years’ planned growth.”

Donnelly said the firm began a four-phase growth strategy in 2013 and has seen rapid growth in that time, doubling its size and paint lines.

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“Uform is an ambitious company and we want to continue our pace of growth across the UK and Ireland in the coming years.

Patrick Graham, head of Central Scotland and Northern Ireland at BGF, said: “Uform has had an impressive growth rate over the past few years, tripling its turnover while investing in new technologies and expanding its production capabilities.

“The company is a long-established family-owned business and one of the largest employers in the Toomebridge area. Eamon and his team bring a wealth of experience and we look forward to helping unlock the company’s potential to be number one in their sector.

“Uform has set itself an ambitious growth target for the next three years and we’re delighted that BGF’s investment will provide the catalyst to achieving those goals.”

Geoff Sharpe, head of corporate at Danske Bank, said: “Danske Bank has a long-standing and successful relationship with Uform, having supported the growth of the business as strategic banking partner for over 25 years.

“We are delighted to be supporting the future growth of the business together with BGF.”

As part of its investment, BGF’s Jim Meredith will be joining the board of Uform as the company’s non-executive chairman and Graham Clarke will join the board as BGF investor director.

Uform is the fifth company in Northern Ireland to receive investment from BGF, which also has stakes in family-owned house builder Braidwater and recycling company RiverRidge.

BGF provides capital to businesses with revenues typically between £5m and £100m in exchange for a minority, non-controlling stake.

It invests up to £10m in firms.

Pictured above: Simon Oliphant, Paul Donnelly and Eamon Donnelly from Uform.

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