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Gloucestershire Business News

Haulage contractor CM Downton is sold

One of Gloucestershire's best known family-run firms, CM Downton, has been taken over.

The Moreton Valence based haulage company has been taken over by EmergeVest, an international private equity investor, in a £75 million deal.

EmergeVest has acquired the entire shareholding from the Downton family and says it will provide additional capital to finance the company's growth.

The Downton family will continue to serve in their respective roles as senior management of the company. Investec Bank plc supported EmergeVest's acquisition of the company with an integrated debt package.

This investment marks EmergeVest's seventh acquisition in the UK logistics sector since being formed in 2013. EmergeVest's current UK portfolio includes Adjuno, Allport Cargo Services, NFT Distribution, NR Evans and Palletforce.

Established in 1955 and headquartered in Gloucestershire, Downton generates annual revenue of around £120 million, operates 600 tractor units and 1,800 trailers, and employs 1,350 people across a comprehensive UK network, including Moreton Valence, Quedgeley, Shepton Mallet, Chepstow, Sharpness, Hardwicke, Tuffley, Runcorn, Manchester, Dunstable, Leeds, Chatham and Tilbury.

Downton's client list includes some of the UK's largest companies across a range of industry sectors, including food and drink, retail, manufacturing, ink and paper, print and publishing, energy, waste and consumer goods. Clients include AB InBev, Dyson, Whirlpool, Fever-Tree, Saica Paper, UPM-Kymmene Corporation, Frontline and Marketforce.

Commenting on today's announcement, Heath Zarin, CEO and managing director of EmergeVest said: "We are excited at the opportunity to bring Downton into the EmergeVest family and to be investing in a business with such significant potential."

Andy Downton, managing director of CM Downton, said: "The Downton family, along with a fabulous team of people, have built a first-class operation and one that we are extremely proud of.

"The sale of the business has not been taken lightly, however we have always understood the importance of growth and a proper succession plan. This business is now ready for fresh energy, vigour and focus.

"EmergeVest are the correct successors to achieve this. They have a great vision and are building an unrivalled UK network, encompassing freight forwarding, pallet, chilled and now our ambient network."

EmergeVest was advised on this transaction by:

• Ashurst - Legal

• KPMG - Financial due diligence and tax

CM Downton was advised on this transaction by:

• Osborne Clarke - Legal

• KPMG - Corporate finance

Financing for the transaction is being provided by Investec Bank plc.

  • C M Downton Ltd began in 1955 when Conrad Michael Downton, the owner of a small Gloucestershire farm, invested in a gravel-carrying tipper lorry and began moving small loads around the county to supplement the modest income from the farm.

The business quickly became involved in a number of major projects including the building of the M5 and the construction of the approach roads to the original Severn Bridge. By the end of the 1960s, Downton had built up a fleet of tipper vehicles and was heavily involved in the construction industry in Gloucestershire and along the M5 corridor.

In the early 1970s, Downton purchased its first articulated lorry and the business continued to flourish. Soon it had more than a dozen articulated vehicles. Downton diversified its operations and commenced working for the local brewing industry, winning major contracts with Bass Brewers and the Flowers Brewery in Cheltenham.

Conrad Downton died suddenly in 1985 at the age of 52. His three sons - Andrew, Richard and John - and daughter Kate took over the business which grew to become one of the UK's leading independent haulage and logistics firms.

The business has expanded rapidly across all sectors, but especially in the drinks and publishing industries.

Pictured: (left to right): Richard Graham MP on a recent visit with Richard Downton and David Leleu of CM Downton

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