BY Fraser Tennant
Despite prevailing uncertainty in the macro-backdrop, the UK small and medium-sized enterprises (SME) sector is proving to be resilient having seen a strong Q3 2017, according to figures published this week.
In its ‘Growth Capital Update Q3 2017’ report, Kingston Smith reveals that 117 private companies raised £501.3m of growth funding in the third quarter – figures which accelerate the sector’s momentum and suggest 2017 will end up being a record year for growth equity capital fundraising in the UK SME sector.
The firm also notes that last quarter’s figures bring the year-to-date total to £1.35bn raised by 330 companies, which suggests that 2017 will comfortably exceed 2015’s peak when 394 businesses raised £1.53bn (Kingston Smith’s analysis covers mid-market range transactions in which UK private companies have raised £1m to £15m of growth equity capital).
Underlining the appeal of the UK SMEs, two of the quarter’s top-three backers were international venture capitalists (VCs). The reason for the uptick in interest, according to Kingston Smith, is due to many of the UK’s growing SMEs being at an early stage in their development, the global reputation that UK businesses have for being potential ‘world-beaters and the opportunities a weakened pound presents to international funders.
Among the notable deals in Q3 2017 was the £15m investment made by L Catterton, a US private equity firm specialising in consumer brands, to acquire 27.9 percent of the Scottish craft beer brewer Innis & Gunn; Foresight Group’s £2.25m investment into Cinelab London, a postproduction service provider with expertise in film; and the £3.5m investment made by Business Growth Fund, one of the UK’s biggest investors in SMEs, into Filmore & Union, a chain of UK restaurants focusing on healthy eating.
In addition, the report states that approximately 65 percent of the funding in Q3 came from institutions, many of which are international, including L Catterton (US), Creandum (Sweden) and Partech (Transatlantic).
“We are genuinely encouraged to see this dynamic part of the market grow,” said John Cowie, partner and head of growth capital at Kingston Smith. “While we understand the tremendous growth prospects these businesses have, it is very promising to see more international backers invest as a vote of confidence. The figures highlight the strength of this part of the UK economy.”