Harwood Private Capital supports the management buyout of Suffolk based family-run horticulture business following £20M funding package from OakNorth Bank

  • Harwood Private Capital focuses on providing flexible funding to UK SMEs and lower mid-market companies;
  • The firm has secured a £20M funding package from OakNorth Bank to support the management buyout of family-run horticulture business, Mr. Fothergill’s Seeds Limited;
  • Founded in 1978 by Jeff Fothergill and Brian Carey, Mr. Fothergill’s Seeds is an independent  horticulture supplier providing gardening products ranging from  seeds and bulbs to tools and other supplementary products;
  • Mr.Fothergill’s Seeds has a growing international footprint having operated in Australia and New Zealand since 1989, with a number of strategic distribution arrangements extending the group’s geographic reach to Canada, Europe and the Middle East;
  • The business has benefitted from an increased interest in gardening through the pandemic, and with increased flexible working arrangements set to continue, the group is well placed to exploit further growth.

OakNorth Bank, the UK bank for entrepreneurs, by entrepreneurs, has provided Harwood Private Capital with a £20M funding package to facilitate the management buyout (MBO) of family-run horticulture firm, Mr.Fothergill’s Seeds Limited. The deal enables the managed exit of the founding Carey and Fothergill families.

A member of the Harwood Capital Management family of funds (AUM>£1bn), Harwood Private Capital focuses on supporting growth orientated SMEs and lower mid-market companies in the UK.  The firm’s flexible capital allows it to support business owners / management teams in meeting their growth  objectives without the loss of control associated with traditional private equity investment.

Founded in 1978 by Jeff Fothergill and Brian Carey, Mr.Fothergill’s Seeds Limited is an international horticulture supplier providing gardening products ranging from seeds and bulbs to tools and other supplementary products. The group owns a portfolio of well-established brands under which it sells through over 5,000 garden, homeware and retail sites. These sales are complemented by the group’s online ‘direct to consumer’ channels. The group has operations in Australia, New Zealand and strategic distributor relationships extend its geographic reach to Canada, Europe and the Middle East.

Dave Carey, CEO of Mr. Fothergill’s Seeds said: “The business my father, Brian founded with Jeff Fothergill 40 years ago that myself, Aaron Whitehouse and John Fothergill, have led for the last decade, has remained true to its family values while becoming one of the world’s leading seed brands. Those values, and our commitment to supporting our customers with the best possible product and service, will continue to be at the core of our offer as we enter into an exciting new era with Harwood Private Capital, supported by OakNorth Bank. I’m looking forward to working with the team as we target further growth across our international client base and the direct-to-consumer market.”

Jerry Wilson, Partner, Harwood Private Capital, commented on the transaction: “We are delighted to support Dave Carey and Aaron Whitehouse who lead the management team at Mr. Fothergill’s Seeds Limited.  The founding families have built up a strong platform with an increasing international reach – Mr. Fothergill’s Seeds is well placed to exploit a range of exciting growth opportunities under the capable leadership of the team.  This of course would not have been possible without the funding from OakNorth Bank. The commercial, pragmatic approach adopted by the OakNorth team is testament to the core principles on which the Bank was founded, enabling us to complete a tailored transaction that works for all stakeholders”

Stuart Blair, Director of Debt Finance at OakNorth Bank, added: “The experienced investment team at Harwood Private Capital is able to react quickly to opportunities and execute complex transactions swiftly, giving its funds an advantage in the UK’s mid-market and smaller company space. It is exactly this skill set that has allowed the firm to capitalise on its latest project with Mr.Fothergill’s Seeds and we’re thrilled to have been able to support the transaction. With the UK garden products market set to increase from £4.9bn to £5.7bn by 2025[1] underpinned by the continuing strong growth of consumer interest in gardening and shift in flexible working arrangements, Mr. Fothergill’s Seeds is in a good position to exploit growth both in the UK and in international markets.  We look forward to supporting the business with its ongoing growth initiatives. ”

[1] CIL Commercial Due Diligence

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