June 2, 2017 – London-based executive search firm Wilton & Bain has secured investment from Beechbrook Capital to fund a management buyout as the firm targets further domestic and international growth. The amount of funding was not disclosed. As the firm expects demand for its services to grow in the coming months, Wilton & Bain plans to further expand its global footprint, while also driving growth from its WBMS Interim Management offering and contingent services through its WBRS brand.
Founded in 2001 by Jeremy Mobbs and Ben Latreuille, Wilton & Bain provides executive search, interim management/consulting and technology resourcing services to the technology, professional services and converging digital markets. With offices in London, San Francisco and New York, the firm has an expertise in technology to focus on digital transformation for clients across TMT, retail, consumer, financial services, insurance and utilities.
David Heron, currently CEO of WBMS, will become group CEO with Mr. Mobbs and Mr. Latreuille focusing on several of Wilton & Bain’s key clients and taking a lead on international expansion. “The management buy-out, plus an injection of growth capital, highlights just how deeply committed the management team is to the success of the business and its continued expansion,” said Mr. Heron. “More than anything, we know that our people are key to this success and we are passionately committed to the development of young people in a high-energy and collaborative culture as the company grows.”
Piers Marmion, chairman of Wilton & Bain, said the investment goes beyond mere dollars. “This is a very special company which stands out from the crowd because of its unsurpassed drive and dedication to clients and the longevity of these client relationships,” he said. “This investment is also an important validation of the quality and potential of Wilton & Bain and it will enable the business to accelerate its growth internationally.”
Beechbrook’s financing comes from the firm’s U.K. SME Credit Fund. The fund invests in U.K. SMEs that lack private equity backing. Jon Herbert, Beechbrook managing director of the fund, said: “We are delighted to support this very talented senior management team as they take partial ownership of the business which they have helped develop. Our funding will assist in developing a number of initiatives within the business, including international expansion.”
Executive Recruiters Set New Milestones In Latest Rankings
While the top-end recruitment sector has been in transition for several years, it has reached an inflection point. It is the result of a massive industry shift – a move from a singular focus on identifying and recruiting leaders to one providing more sophisticated talent solutions to clients.
Funding Sources Line Up for Talent Acquisition Platforms
Funding sources have been lining up over the past year to invest in recruiting platforms of all shapes and sizes. Wilton & Bain is just the latest example. As the money flows in, many of these talent service providers are bulking up with executive recruiters or landing M&A deals that are giving them wider platforms from which to grow. This year is looking to be even more active and ambitious.
According to Tim McHugh, a partner and global services analyst for Chicago-based William Blair & Co., executive search firms are “capital efficient businesses,” which makes them attractive to investors. The search sector, he said, also happens to be at a crossroads where expansion into ancillary sectors, like leadership consulting, is allowing room for growth “and an opportunity to develop more consistent, deeper relationships with clients.” The biggest risk to investors, he said, is appropriately identifying the value of the firm versus the importance of the individuals at the firm.
“We see solid growth opportunities for mid-sized search firms that are big enough to service global clients and expand their solutions, but are not yet meaningfully held back by off-limits issues,” he said.
Recently, Patina Solutions secured $3.45 million in capital funding to support its growth and expansion efforts. Individual angel investors contributed a big portion of that investment. Patina has used that funding to grow exponentially, increasing revenue over 200 percent in the past three years. “And, we’re not done yet,” said Patina CEO Mike Harris.
New Heritage Capital has made a significant investment The Execu | Search Group. New Heritage Capital is a private equity firm with a boutique practice of investing in owner-managed and operated businesses. Under terms of the deal, Execu | Search will retain operational control, and the existing management team will remain in place. All offices, services, and operational processes as well as account representatives and assigned recruiters will remain unchanged. The firm says the goal of the partnership is to continue to provide its clients with industry leading services on an even broader scale with a more diverse and innovative mix of service offerings. The funding will allow for more investment in these areas.
Elliot Group entered into a strategic investment agreement with Steve Lockton, executive vice president and owner at the Lockton Companies, a privately held insurance broker and risk management consulting firm. Under terms of the agreement, Mr. Lockton has made an undisclosed equity investment in Elliot to further advance both firm’s ability to leverage existing business and create new opportunities in the global marketplace.
In addition, Norman Broadbent has raised more than $3 million from new and existing equity investors to fuel future growth plans. The investment came from a range of high profile investors, including Miton and City Financial Investment. Backing was also secured from existing investors, including Jon Moulton (a substantial shareholder of the firm), Downing LLP and Ennismore Fund Management. The firm is using the investment to strengthen the core Norman Broadbent executive search business and to broaden the firm’s overall client offering by investing in the growth of the firm’s interim management business and NB:Solutions.
Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor; and Chase Barbe, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media