Opus Trust acquires Adare SEC

Strong: "We are now a much larger and more resilient business"
Strong: "We are now a much larger and more resilient business"

Omnichannel communications specialist Opus Trust Communications will become a £110m-turnover business after acquiring Adare SEC.

The Leicester-headquartered business completed the deal to purchase integrated communications provider Adare SEC from its private equity owner Endless yesterday (1 November). The value of the privately financed deal was undisclosed.

With sites in Huddersfield, Redditch, and Nottingham, Adare SEC specialises in very similar sectors to Opus Trust. Printweek was told that Opus Trust had reached out to Adare SEC initially and the two businesses had been speaking “for a considerable period of time”.

The acquisition will boost Opus Trust’s headcount from 180 to 530, with no redundancies made as a result of the deal.

The business said the deal, which follows its acquisitions of Critiqom in 2019 and DocCentrics in 2020, will further strengthen its capabilities and geographic footprint within the transactional communications market.

At the time of the DocCentrics deal, Opus Trust CEO Tony Strong had flagged up the company’s ambition to be “at the top of the mid-tier table” in the communications space with sales of around £100m-plus, which would partly be achieved via further M&A.

The Adare SEC deal will achieve that aim for the company, whose sales stood at £42m ahead of the acquisition, up from £26m when Strong was appointed three years ago.

One industry peer commented: “It's a real 'go for it' move. I think it shows some cojones from the owners and some strategic foresight and vision.”

All Adare SEC assets are included in the purchase and there are no plans to sell off any equipment. 

Opus Trust said it would be “very much business as usual” and that the immediate focus “will be on integrating the businesses and consolidating the equipment and specialisms that we have across all sites”.

The company added the deal “reinforces Opus Trust Communications’ credibility as a preferred partner in digital transformation and customer experience, building on the strides taken by Adare SEC in this area”.

“This acquisition is a significant moment in our story, and we look forward to welcoming both colleagues and clients from Adare SEC to the Opus Trust Group,” said Strong.

“While the market is contracting, we are investing to allow us to grow at scale and pace. We made the commitment to become a £100m business within five years and have achieved that in under three.

“With complementary specialisms, we are now a much larger and more resilient business, but we don’t want to lose sight of our values or our wider ambitions. Our focus is to become the largest and best transactional communications partner in the UK market.

“As an acquisitive organisation we are already looking at further opportunities, however the relationships we have with our customers and the way we work so closely with them will remain our point of difference.”

Adare SEC CEO Rachael Nevins, who will leave the business as part of the transaction, added: “When we began the sale process of Adare SEC, we wanted to ensure that the business found the right new ownership. We are delighted that Opus Trust is that new partner who shares our vision of the future of the industry, our culture, and our values.

“It has been an honour to lead Adare SEC and its fantastic workforce over the last four years. All of our colleagues had to go the extra mile in recent times, dealing with the impact of the pandemic, and I am humbled to have had the opportunity to represent them all.”

Endless partner James Woolley said the deal “represents the culmination of five years of work to transform [Adare SEC] into a leading digital and integrated communications company in this industry”.

“It has been a pleasure to work with Rachael and her executive team and I wish them, and all of our colleagues at Adare SEC, a bright future as part of the Opus Trust Group,” he added.

Decisions around the name and branding of Adare SEC going forwards have yet to be agreed. The company had itself rebranded earlier this year as it looked to drive growth by leveraging the circa £5m multichannel investment it made across the business through the pandemic.

The company had operated as a separate entity since 2017, when Adare Group was dissolved. The other part of the group – Adare International – was acquired by HH Global from Endless in June this year.

In its most recently filed accounts on Companies House, for the year ended 31 October 2019, Adare SEC reported a pension liability of £34m, with a surplus thanks to scheme assets of £35.3m at the time. The  defined benefit pension scheme dates back to Halcyon Business Solutions, once part of the Adare Group.

Strong told Printweek that Adare SEC’s latest accounts, due on 31 October, “will be published shortly as they couldn’t be published during the deal”. The last valuation regarding the pension, he added, was a deficit of £3.5m, and “we are supporting closing this gap”.