Hillarys, founded in 1971, is the UK’s leading provider of made-to-measure window blinds with a 25% market share. The company manufactures, sells and delivers a full in-home measuring and fitting service for its customers.
CCP acquired a controlling stake in the business in July 2004 in a secondary buy-out, with the management team re-investing significantly in the transaction.
WHY WE LIKED HILLARYS
- Clear market leader in a growing market
- Differentiated business model with a high customer satisfaction rating
- Efficient production with high margins and potential to outsource further
- Variable cost base, profitable and highly cash generative
- Opportunity to improve advertising effectiveness
- Opportunity to launch multi-brand, multi-channel and multi-product strategy
WHAT WE SAW DIFFERENTLY
We quickly identified pre-acquisition, that advertising effectiveness fell short of industry best practice. The company, through a sophisticated IT platform, had a significant volume of data detailing returns on each individual piece of advertising. By using this data more effectively and redirecting advertising spend away from unprofitable national brand advertising to more targeted, proven, local advertising the management team was able to significantly improve the customer conversion rate. The resulting higher returns on advertising expenditure underpinned Hillarys’ profitable growth strategy.
HOW WE HELPED
Working closely with the management team at the time of acquisition we collectively agreed that we needed to invest in a senior leadership team that would drive the sales and marketing growth agenda. As a result, we appointed a new CEO, CFO and Commercial Director, all with sales and marketing backgrounds who believed in the opportunity and worked on advertising effectiveness. This management team focussed on and delivered several growth initiatives which included:
- Analysing the profitability of all advertising expenditure and diverting monies away from less profitable campaigns
- Supporting the investment required to move the sales force away from paper based ordering to automated order taking devices to drive efficiency and profitability
- Extending far-east sourcing to include part-assembled products
- Developing new distribution channels and products including investment in high growth internet channels and a premium shutters offer
During our involvement with Hillarys, we supported management to transform the business from a manufacturer to a multi-channel, multi-brand, multi-product sales and marketing company with a strong platform for further growth. Change Capital Partners successfully exited the business after three years in June 2007.