Dawsongroup is a very successful 3rd generation family business, specialising in the supply of commercial vehicles.
The history of Dawsons goes back to 1935. It’s now one of the leading UK asset rental businesses.
I’m ultimately responsible for everything that we do for Dawsongroup, from day-to-day transactional banking right through a number of specialist product areas, such as trade, asset finance and cash management, where I have a number of specialist product colleagues to help me.
At the very beginning of this year, Transflex was a super business, very well run, consistent on Dawson Group terms, very strong management team, a very successful company. We first started to gather market intelligence from various competitors and suppliers that the parent company might be in financial difficulty. At that point they were in advanced negotiations to be sold to a private equity firm. We then got invited to participate and we were up against another private equity firm. That other private equity firm was given exclusivity, so we stepped back for a period and we were asked quite late on if we could step in as the only viable option.
With about 10 days to run we had to work really quickly, late into the evening and at weekends, to negotiate with various funders and to negotiate with the administrators, HMRC, to try and conclude a deal before the company was put into liquidation.
I’m a product specialist working within our asset finance team. I help support clients with their capital expenditure needs. I first got involved with the Transflex situation when the phone rang one evening. It was Tony Coleman. He called to say that Dawsons had been given exclusivity on the Transflex deal.
Dawson Group are a very acquisitive company, so we’ve made over the years probably 15 acquisitions since I’ve been here. This differed greatly from other acquisitions because it was out of administration and so you don’t have a chance to do any due diligence, it’s very, very time-pressured and it’s very quick and dirty and it involves a lot of evening work and weekend work and there’s always hurdles to overcome, things that you can’t anticipate.
We worked around the clock to give Dawson Group the support and creditability they would need to be seen as a viable bidder for the business. This acquisition helped them take a huge step forward.
We’d started our van rental business in 2011 and, although we’d been growing very fast, we’ve actually accelerated the growth by acquiring this business by probably 3 or 4 years and, more importantly than that, we’ve managed to save 80 jobs in the North East. It’s essential to have good business partners and obviously Barclays have helped us out a lot. They’ve been our principle bankers for many years and they are also one of our main asset finance providers we’d like that to continue.
I really enjoy working with the team at Dawsons. We’ve developed a very close working relationship, which is fun, hard work and sometimes very demanding.
The key lesson that I learned is that it’s very important to have good business relationships that are built up over a number of years. You build up a confidence and a trust in what we do and our capabilities. Looking back on Barclays’ involvement, it was very, very important and we couldn’t have got the deal concluded without them.
I hope that the relationship that Dawson Group and Barclays have always had continues to go from strength to strength.