McMurtrie leads MBO at MIS firm Tharstern

By Darryl Danielli, Monday 21 July 2014

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Tharstern managing director Keith McMurtrie has led an MBO at the MIS developer with two other directors as the firm targets rapid international expansion.

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Tharstern MBO team (L-R): McMurtrie, Lord and Ward

The MBO deal for the £4m-turnover company was signed last Friday afternoon (18 July).

McMurtrie said that following the successful completion of the deal, the MBO team, made up of McMurtrie, technical director Antony Lord and sales director Lee Ward, is planning to aggressively target international growth with new distributors and agencies.

“We already have a number of installations globally, but we want to expand on that. We’ve continued to get good growth in the home market in the past 18 months, but we want to push that further afield now,” said McMurtrie.

The firm has more than 550 installations, the majority of which are in the UK.

The deal came about after the firm’s owner, Richard Bannister, the son-in-law of Tharstern founder Keith Harrison, decided to sell the non-core MIS business and approached the firm’s management team last July.

Bannister owns a portfolio of retail businesses, including the Boundary Mill Stores chain.

The MBO deal was backed by private equity house Mobeus Equity Partners with a combined debt and equity package.

“I met a number of potential investors, but we hit it off with Mobeus straight away and they made it clear that they wanted to be a long-term partner, which was really attractive. They’ve also made it clear that they’re here to support us with any funding we require to drive growth,” said McMurtrie.

According to McMurtrie, 2013 was a record-breaking year for Tharstern in terms of both sales and profits, and he added that 2014 had already got off to an “unprecedented start”.

“This year we’re forecasting to smash last year's figures,” he said.

“Like the industry at large I think we’re at the bottom of an upward curve, so I see lots of growth potential.”

International growth will be spearheaded by Abdul Kassas, who while not part of the MBO team remains a board member and an integral part of the business, according to McMurtrie.

“Abdul has been mentoring Lee for the past few years to enable him to take the reins as sales director. Now Abdul wants to focus on something new, and driving strategic international growth is perfect as he’s very good at ‘hands across the ocean’.”

At the start of year the 46-staff business moved to a leased 930sqm refurbished facility in Colne, Lancashire. It is currently looking to expand its workforce to support existing and future growth.

McMurtrie said the MBO deal would also enable the company to invest further in R&D, with a number of new products already in the pipeline for the next six to 12 months.

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