David Parkin on a crisp deals market, a rock and roll entrepreneur and impressive work at York Racecourse

David Parkin on a crisp deals market, a rock and roll entrepreneur and impressive work at York Racecourse

THE dramatic fall in the London stock market gave gave plenty of investors the jitters this week. But that is more down to international financial markets rather than how domestic business is fairing.

There appears to be some real confidence in the regional business community.

A couple of weeks ago I was chatting to Will Arnold, of Leeds-based corporate finance advisers Sentio Partners and he was saying things could do with being a bit busier.

I pointed out that things couldn’t be that bad, given most of his colleagues in the office were munching on bags of Seabrook Crisps, as a result of the involvement of Sentio’s Ian Marwood and Bridie Robinson in the recent LDC buyout of the Bradford-based family-owned food business.

But dealmakers are always looking forward, and when a deal does finally complete, it normally is the result of months of hard work and negotiations.

But looking back at August, there was the Seabrook deal, valued around £35m, which saw LDC back chief executive Jonathan Bye in an MBO and involving senior debt provided by Charlie Barker and Mike Selina from Yorkshire Bank, Alex Hartley at KPMG advising LDC on the deal while lawyers from Walker Morris and Pinsent Masons were also involved and Deloitte also advised the Brook-Chrispin family on the transaction.

And then there was another who’s who of regional dealmakers involved in the £43m sale of FMG, the Huddersfield-based fleet management business.

Martin Jenkins, senior partner at Deloitte in Yorkshire, led a team that advised Endless and Andrew Cope on the sale while Jonathan Jones at Squire Patton Boggs provided legal advice.

KPMG completed financial and tax due diligence on behalf of the buyer.

This wasn’t the biggest deal that will happen in Yorkshire this year, but it proved a few things.

Firstly that Andrew Cope, after five buyouts at Zenith, has done it again, barely 12 months after investing in FMG.

The sign of a true entrepreneur is someone who has talent and an appetite for hard work and an eye for a great opportunity.

A keen guitarist and former member of a band, Andrew will definitely see this as his “second album” moment.

I wonder what he has planned next?

Secondly this was a great deal for Endless. The Yorkshire-based private equity fund started by Garry Wilson and Darren Forshaw, has doubled its money in FMG in about four months, given it finally got regulatory approval for the deal in April.

Endless has been a great success story and clearly has its eyes on the London market and more international deals.

But if it can keep doing deals like this, that give it such a big return, then it won’t mind staying local more often.


ONE of my friends has recently got a job with Seabrooks. I was impressed that he’d got the new role just as a new team takeover the helm of the crisp firm.

But mention the name to anyone south of Sheffield and west of Keighley and they will almost certainly look at you blankly.

That shouldn’t be a concern for the new owners, LDC, but an opportunity.

Besides premium brands like Kettle Chips, there is Walkers Crisps as a national brand but not that many other competitors.

Seabrooks has a great reputation and popularity in Yorkshire. The new owners now have the opportunity of widening the product range and achieving national coverage in the UK.

We’ll all open a bag of crisps to that.


York Racecourse enjoyed another successful Ebor Festival last week.

The course was looking fantastic and the multi-million pound investment in the facilities was complete.

I wrote a piece after the May meeting and was invited for a tour of the course by York’s marketing manager James Brennan.

I said at the time that Leeds-based property man Richard Boothroyd had been highlighting work that needed to be completed back in May,

But as James pointed out, the work was always due to be completed in time for the Welcome to Yorkshire Ebor Festival in August.

Having surveyed the improvements, I think even Richard Boothroyd will have thrown his ‘snagging’ list in the bin.

I only went on one day, Friday, previous two-day trips to York have left me feeling rather jaded and lacking creativity.

A guest of Leeds-based business advice and insolvency firm, BWC Solutions, I had a really enjoyable day.

Hosted by the larger than life Paul Whitwam and Gary Blackburn of BWC, we kicked off with brunch at the Hotel du Vin, where I bumped into Sir Gary Verity, hosting guests for three days at the Ebor, which Welcome to Yorkshire were the main sponsor of, before, he said, heading off to watch the start of the Vuelta d’Espana, the cycling Tour of Spain.

Sir Big V was on fine form but couldn’t give me a winner, alas.

Gary Blackburn showed me a business card one of his former colleagues produced for him several decades ago. It bore his name and then the subtitle ‘A legend in his own time’ plus several descriptions including: World Traveller, Bon Vivant, Soldier of Fortune, Wars Fought, Revolutions Started, Alligators Castrated, Uprisings Quelled, Tigers Tamed, Bars Emptied.

I think Gary was most proud of the line saying: ‘International Lover’.

In double-breasted blazer, striped yellow tie and with a wealth of interesting tales, Gary is certainly still living up to the legend on that card.

Whether everyone else can keep up with him is another matter.

Have a great weekend.


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