Herida Healthcare cutting factory

Neil Smith imageDeveloping rapidly since entering the market three and a half years ago, Herida Healthcare, the brainchild of entrepreneurs Neil Smith and John Kay, is now entering its next stage of growth, with big domestic and global ambitions.

Recently moving into its new 30,000 sq ft facility in Leeds and with new products in the pipeline, the UK manufacturer of pressure care and moving & handling products is pursuing organic growth by ramping up its operations, however, the driven company is also embarking on an acquisition strategy as well.

Newly-appointed Herida Healthcare Chairman Neil Smith discusses the thinking behind the supplier’s acquisition goals and what the company is aiming to achieve as it sets off on the M&A trail.

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THIIS: Moving into the role of chairman, what will your involvement be with Herida going forwards – retiring to the Maldives or Monaco?

Neil: There’s certainly no plans of retiring to the sun and sea just yet! With John Bentley taking over as MD, my role as chairman will be to focus on our M&A strategy. We do have an acquisitions budget and we are looking at synergistic companies, as well as considering other opportunities in healthcare.

John’s role will be to see the continued growth of Herida’s business organically, whilst I will drive growth through our acquisition strategy.

THIIS: What does the ideal company to acquire look like in your mind?

Neil: People who make similar or complementary products to ourselves and have market share would be two big ticks.

Now that we have our fantastic showpiece facility, we need to fill it full to the rafters so we need more revenue coming through to create more jobs while producing very similar products.

So, if there was another Herida Healthcare out there or another moving and handling profile to add on to the business, then that would fit into our M&A piece quite nicely.

Really, if it adds value and complements our business, then we are very interested in talking to people.

THIIS: Are there any markets you are specifically targeting?

Neil: Not to give too much away, I am actually in talks currently with companies that are not just in the UK.

THIIS: Do you have a timeframe in mind for when you want to acquire your first company?

Neil: We are genuinely not in a rush, so we can afford to wait until the right company comes along. We have the funds available & ready to go and we do not have any debt, so if the right company came along next week, we would be interested or if takes longer, then that is fine.

We are not rushing into this and taking a longer-term approach to ensure that when we do make the decision, it is the right fit at the right time.

THIIS: Does it help not being beholden to a private equity firm to allow you to control and manage the M&A strategy in a sustainable way?

Neil: It is an interesting question, particularly as there are many examples of companies in the industry that have gone down the private equity and venture capital route.

It is a well-trodden path and can work very well indeed, considering some of the larger, high-profile acquisitions that have taken place in the sector which have occurred in the last five years. There are some success stories but equally, there are examples which haven’t quite worked out as well.

We have to be careful not to follow those mistakes and being in control of our own destiny certainly helps.

THIIS: Acquisitions can throw up their own issues, in terms of marrying up the cultures, operations and mindsets of two different companies. How will you ensure a smooth transition and integration?

Neil: It’s a good point but I think, when we speak to acquisition targets, there is a reason we are speaking with them and it is because we respect them, we understand their position in the market and we recognise the great job they have done within it.

For us, it is about ensuring that the company and all those involved understand that the acquisition is not simply to bolt it on, take assets and shut it down but actually to capitalise and enhance what has made them successful, along with taking the employees and management teams forward.

THIIS: Is there anything you would like to let potential companies out there know as Herida Healthcare prepares to embark on its M&A strategy?

Neil: I think it is important to restate that we are extremely loyal to our distribution partners, as well as highlighting that the representation of our turnover is 23 to 25 percent in export and we have a large community equipment profile.

We also have a small dealer profile who we are are very loyal to and it is something that lies in the heart of how we have always operated, which is, we do not go fishing in our dealers’ and distributors’ ponds.

THIIS: Is there anything you would like to let dealers know, particularly those looking to become more involved in moving and handling or pressure care?

Neil: For dealers, I want to let them know that we are a friend, we can work with them and we can give them a competitive advantage, bolstered by marketing support and indeed, the speed of our manufacturing profile.


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