Bestport Private Equity has acquired a majority stake in the 70-staff Belfast-based business, with previous owners Gary and Neil White retaining minority shareholdings.
Following the deal, which completed last Thursday (25 January), managing director Richard Campbell will continue to lead the business. Gary and Neil White will remain with the business in part-time capacities as consultants and non-executive directors.
Speaking to Printweek, Gary White said it felt like the right time to sell.
“We thought it was a good time to let the management team take the reins, because the business has a massively bright future and Neil is 60 and I’m 57… and we’ve got a really good team of people and it was time to give them the opportunity to push forward and be masters of their own destiny.”
The White brothers started to look at securing a new owner for the business around the same time Northside was crowned Printweek’s Company of the Year last March, which Gary White credited as being a factor in the high-level of interest in the business. “Winning Company of the Year definitely helped,” he said.
The brothers approached advisors Beltrae Partners and hosted a 'beauty parade' of potential buyers – during which Bestport stood out as the perfect partner.
“Once we decided to dip our toe in the water, meeting the guys at Bestport and understanding what they wanted to achieve when they met the team, it all just clicked – because we wanted to make sure the buyer wanted to really help the team, and Bestport were very much team oriented”.
Gary White was equally effusive in his praise of Campbell, who has long history with the business dating back to 2010, describing him simply as “brilliant”.
“Our business has achieved exceptional growth and success in recent years, and we have every confidence that this will continue,” said Campbell.
“Bestport’s investment paves the way for further expansion and investment across all areas of the business, ensuring that our customers continue to benefit from exceptional quality, service, the fastest turnaround times and an even greater range of innovative products.”
With his expanded remit under the new ownership, Campbell will also be supported by a newly appointed chairman, former Astron CEO David Mitchell, who has held a number if similar roles in recent years and remains a board director of RDI (formerly Real Digital International).
“I’m very excited to be involved, I wasn’t looking to get involved with another business, but Northside is a brilliant business, with a brilliant team and amazing products and world-class customer service,” Mitchell told Printweek.
He also said that in light of the recent political machinations, it was ideally placed to thrive as it operates “in the only country in the world that has equal access into the EU and the UK”.
Northside trades under four web-to-print brands across the UK and Ireland: DigitalPrinting.co.uk, TradeDigitalPrint.co.uk, DigitalPrinting.ie and TradeDigitalPrint.ie.
London-headquartered Bestport specialises in investments UK "lower mid-market" sized business.
Managing Partner James Stoddart said: “The demanding nature of the B2B market means dynamic businesses like Northside are well positioned to scale – especially given the fantastic business that Gary and Neil White have built, which puts the customer at the forefront of all they do."
Gary White was one of Printweek's 'big interviews' in 2019, read it here.