The Business Investors Group has invested in excess of £25 million since it was formed in September 1997. Below is a testimonial for one of the investments carried out by members of BiG.
Eclipse Translations Ltd
Eclipse Translations Ltd is a translation company that specialises in translating legal, financial, medical, technical, commercial and defence-related documents in a secure environment. It also provides interpreting services and language training. It was incorporated in December 1996 and rapidly grew into the largest translation company in the Northern half of the UK. The company came into contact with BiG in mid-1998 via the referral of a retired Merchant Banker who was aware that the company was seeking external support. That support was needed to facilitate further sustainable and profitable growth and to achieve its goal of becoming No.1 in the UK and a major player in Europe. The response from interested BiG members was swift and following detailed discussions and appropriate due diligence an investment was concluded in November of the same year.
The decision by the Eclipse MD, Trevor Crowe, to move the business forward with BiG on board was not merely based on the offer of equity. Whilst equity was important, the clear benefit to the business, above other funding organisations, was the BiG formula of Equity and Expertise. This of course had to be combined with a ‘personality fit’ – the BiG marriage is the longest of any marriages that the MD has known!
Identifying and freeing up the key skills of the MD and creating a Board of Directors consisting of experienced individuals with supporting skills (and a personal stake in the business) has resulted in turnover rising more than three-fold in five years (to £1.5m), a current growth level (Q1 2004) of more than 56% compared to Q1 2003 and a balance sheet of considerable strength. GP and profitability are exceptional and the company can be classified as a genuine people-based, cashgenerating service organisation.
Eclipse also built its own purpose-built European Translation Centre on a one-acre site on the outskirts of Alnwick, Northumberland, with a floor area of 7,500 sq.ft. and space to accommodate future expansion. The Centre was opened in October 2001 and is the most secure translation site in Europe, a fact that has assisted in fuelling growth in its key markets.
In addition to the benefit of strong management support that was provided by the Board and the fact that the investment was not time-related was also a major factor in the success of Eclipse. From the beginning it was agreed that an exit would not be until the expectations of the MD would be met and a good ROI achieved for the BiG members. Consequently, the business was not ‘forced’.
The exit ultimately came on 1 February 2005. This followed several months of negotiation with a listed company during which the skills of one of the founding BiG members, John Garrod, were deployed with outstanding effect, resulting in a cash offer for the company and an immediate exit for the MD. The offer was beyond expectations and the MD has been able to take an early and very comfortable retirement. BiG investors have also achieved an exceptional ROI.
Undoubtedly, the secret of the success has been the BiG formula of Equity and Expertise, coupled with patience and nurture. The smaller slice of the BiG cake has certainly turned out to be worth far more than other alternatives.
Eclipse Translations Ltd