With premises in Bridgend, Dorchester, Newton Abbot and Bristol (HQ), Glen Cleaning* is a successful contract cleaning and facilities management business with more than 1,600 staff.
David Seaton and his colleagues were able to buy the business in 2019 thanks to a £2m invoice finance facility from Aldermore. “It enabled us to acquire Glen for a fair price, without having to involve a private equity house,” David comments. That would have meant having to give up some control and ownership of the business.
“Invoice finance from Aldermore also provides the business with working capital, which will help Glen Cleaning to achieve significant organic growth over the next few years,” he adds.
After being set up in 1982, Glen Cleaning grew steadily, but it remained a small Bristol-based business until Ian Lewis bought it in 1995. Just two years later, Glen Cleaning was turning over some £800,000 a year and the company’s fortunes were transformed over the next 22 years. By 2019 it was turning over £15m a year, cleaning up numerous lucrative contracts in the South West and South Wales.
“Most of Glen’s clients come from the public sector,” David reveals. “They include schools, universities and council offices. As the business has grown it’s won larger contracts and, through excellent service delivery, it’s retained contracts after re-tendering. Glen Cleaning has built up a strong reputation in this region.
“We’re a sustainably minded company – we’re carbon neutral. We’re progressive, yet we have traditional values when it comes to customer service. Our highly experienced, dedicated, long-serving staff have also helped to ensure our success. Now, we want to grow again and our aim is to become a national business with a £25m turnover. To achieve that, we plan to diversify by attracting more private-sector clients. Crucially, we need the finance to fund that growth.”
Knowledgeable and supportive
David had previous experience of Aldermore, so, he knew who to call when trying to buy Glen Cleaning. “The Aldermore team were highly proactive, knowledgeable and supportive,” he remembers. “Alex [Hazell, Business Development Manager at Aldermore] gave realistic expectations of the funding Aldermore could provide. He didn’t over-promise: he delivered what he said he’d deliver.
“Other potential providers I talked to delayed over decisions; they changed the deal structure and terms. That didn’t fill me with confidence about doing business with them. By contrast, Aldermore’s flexibility and efficiency made their part of the funding the easiest and most professionally handled element of the transaction.
“They’ve continued to be proactive and helpful. What sets Aldermore apart is its diligent and professional approach, and its swift decision-making and delivery on its promises. There’s nothing worse than a ‘maybe’ or long drawn-out process when you’re seeking finance.”
Funding acquisition and growth
Alex Hazell says: “We were delighted to help David and his team to buy Glen Cleaning. He was extremely knowledgeable about available finance options and he had some exciting plans for the company’s future. We always try to ensure that our clients have the finance and support they need to succeed.
“We’ve financed other management buy-outs and buy-ins, enabling new owners to leverage off assets. Our ability to provide full ABL [asset-based lending] facilities – including lending against inventory, property or plant and machinery, on top of the debtor book – makes us the ideal funding partner. We’d typically go up to £25m on a deal for an ABL facility.
“David brought us into the process late when buying Glen Cleaning, but we got through the credit process swiftly and smoothly to deliver on our promises. We can work with a private equity provider, should debt and equity better suit the client’s needs and circumstances. Obviously, we can help with ongoing working capital, too, through invoice finance. It’s not just about having the money to buy a business, you must be able to run and grow it, too.”