HSS gets new private equity owner

By Murray Pollok26 October 2012

HSS Hire is getting new private equity owners with Och-Ziff and Perry Capital selling the UK rental business to Exponent Private Equity for an undisclosed price.

Exponent, based in London, has an investment fund of £1.2 billion and targets UK and Irish companies valued up to £350 million. Current investments include the Ambassador group - the UK’s largest theatre owner - bed retailer Dreams, Quorn Foods and online train ticket seller thetrainline.com.

HSS has been owned by Och-Ziff and Perry Capital since 2007 under the chairmanship of Archie Norman.

The new owner said it was supporting HSS’s existing management team who had all reinvested in the business.

Oliver Bower, a director at Exponent, said; “It is clear that under Chris [Davies] and his team’s leadership the business has made excellent progress...We believe there is enormous potential for the business to grow further and look forward to supporting the management team during what promises to be an exciting time for the business.”

HSS reported sales of £180.3 million last year, up 5% from the previous year, with profits of £39.9 million. The company said it was seeing continued growth this year. It has a workforce of 2000 and a national network of 230 distribution centres and branches in the UK and Ireland.

Chris Davies, chief executive officer at HSS, said: “HSS is enjoying great success and the company continues to go from strength to strength. This transaction and future support from Exponent will help us unlock fresh capital needed to realise the next phase of our growth plan.

“Having traded successfully and expanded consistently during the last four years, this deal puts HSS in a strong financial position”.

HSS was acquired by Och-Ziff from another private equity firm 3i in 2007 for £310 million (€460 million).

In the five years since Och-Ziff took over HSS has transformed itself from a 450 depot business straddling both consumer and business-to-business rentals into a smaller more focused operation, targeting large, professional customers in facilities management, construction, retail and inddustry.

It was famous in the UK for having hundreds of rental depots in city centre and high street locations, but the emphasis has switched away from these to larger distribution centres in a hub and spoke structure.

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