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Bullet Express acquired in management buyout
Bullet Express, one of the UK’s fastest-developing logistics, distribution and storage companies, has been acquired in a private equity backed management buyout (MBO) led by the company’s Managing Director, John McKail.
The multi-million-pound MBO is backed by equity partners, Panoramic Growth Equity, a leading equity and debt investor in UK-based small and medium sized companies, and Maven Capital Partners, one of the UK’s most active investors in growing businesses. Maven’s partner, London-based Emerald Capital, was instrumental in the MBO discussions from the outset and will support ongoing developments.
The company’s founders, cousins David McCutcheon and Gary Smith, will step down from the Board and assume advisory roles, to support the Senior Leadership team with business transition. Both will retain some shareholding in the business.
John McKail will become Group CEO and shareholder, supported by the existing Directors, Bridget Mackay, William Herron and Martin Craghill, all of whom have played an active role in the success of the MBO and remain important stakeholders.
The investors will play no part in the day-to-day running of Bullet Express which will be managed by John McKail and his wider team on a “business as usual” basis.
John McKail, Bullet Express’s new CEO, said: “This is a significant milestone for our business. Bullet has achieved so much and our founders, David McCutcheon and Gary Smith, can be extremely proud of the fantastic organisation they have built, employing many of the best people in our sector.
“With the support of my full team, I am excited to lead the next phase of our journey as we embark on a ‘build and grow’ strategy with our investment partners. This is a fantastic opportunity for Bullet Express employees, customers and suppliers alike, to be part of the one of the most exciting developments in our sector, now and into the future!”
In a joint statement, Bullet Express founders, David McCutcheon and Gary Smith, said: “This has been our life’s work. To witness the growth and evolution of Bullet has been the most fulfilling experience. From one vehicle back in 1990, to the leading market brand we are today, employing 160 people is quite remarkable. We remain invested and now hand over the baton to John and his team, supremely confident that Bullet is in safe hands for the next chapter of its growth story.”
Malcolm Kpedekpo, Partner at Panoramic, said: “We are delighted to support John and the management team in the next stage of the growth of Bullet. Building on the strong platform developed by the founders, the business is poised to continue its growth both organically and through acquisitions.”
Ewan MacKinnon, Partner at Maven, said: “The buyout of Bullet represents an attractive opportunity for Maven Capital Partners to invest in an established, growing, and cash generative business with the potential of a buy and build strategy.”
Michael Schmitz, Managing Partner at Emerald, said: “We are delighted to be supporting the MBO of such a well-regarded business that services major clients across multiple sectors and we believe it is well-placed to build on the strong foundations that David, Gary, John and their team have established.”
In its most recent accounts, the Glasgow-based business recorded turnover of £19.2m for the period 1 April 2021 to 31 March 2022 (2020/21: £18.0m) with normalised EBITDA of £1.8m (2020/21: £1.1m) as the company expanded its range of services and invested in new storage facilities.
Bullet Express has invested heavily in its infrastructure and its ability to globally connect supply chains, with 20% of profits now coming from Global Freight Management. The business collects and delivers 2,000+ pallets daily, with storage capacity exceeding 40,000 pallets. The acquisition of a 30,000 sq. ft. storage logistics facility on Glasgow’s London Road in 2021, 300 yards from the M74 motorway added a further 5,000 pallets to Bullet Express’s storage capacity, expanding its pallet storage capability by 25% and increasing its number of storage facilities from two to three.
In 2022, Bullet Express opened a further 67,000 sq. ft. storage centre, located next to Glasgow airport at Westway, one of Scotland's largest, fully enclosed, industrial distribution and office parks. This move further increased Bullet Express’s storage capacity by 12,500 pallets, providing easy access to both the M8 and the airport. Air Cargo Logistics was introduced from Westway, providing trucking solutions for the movement of cargo between airports: Glasgow, Prestwick, Edinburgh, Aberdeen, Manchester, Birmingham and Heathrow.
Established more than 30 years ago, Bullet Express is a full-service logistics business providing UK and European road freight services, worldwide air freight, sea freight, customs and storage solutions for customers. It now has 144 trucks and trailers on the road and employs 160 people.
Bullet Express’s rapidly expanding storage network includes:
- Renfrew, Westway Bullet Express Storage Centre with 67,000 sq./ft. floor storage and easy access to the M8 and Glasgow Airport.
- Bothwell, Express Pallet Centre and HQ totalling 200,000 sq./ft. – network distribution.
- Baillieston, flagship Storage Centre totalling 210,000 sq./ft. – racked and floor storage.
- London Road, Glasgow Storage Centre, totalling 32,000 sq./ft. – high-bay racked storage.
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