Independent contractor prepares to float on Alternative investment Market

Published:  18 March, 2006

Building-services contractor Worthington Nicholls Group is looking to raise up to £15 million to fund the organic and acquisitive growth of the business in the UK and Europe by seeking permission to seek admission to trade on the Alternative Investment Market. The company claims to be the UK’s largest independent installer of air-conditioning, heating, ventilation and chilled-water systems.

The market capitalisation of the company on admission to AIM is expected to be £30 to £35 million. Corporate Synergy is acting as nominated adviser and broker.

Mark Worthington, chief executive, says, ‘We have a tremendous opportunity to expand our business. Our market has changed a lot over the years, including much more stringent environmental legislation. As such, the large international and restaurant groups now prefer to deal with a single supplier and one that shares their very high standards of professionalism. Our customers would welcome our ability to expand by acquisition so we can further roll out our services in the UK and Europe.’

The business was established in 1973. In 2003, the company repositioned itself as a support-services group, moving away from the sub-contractor business model that is common across the HVAC industry. The company now offers full project-management capability, including survey, design and specification, through installation, commissioning and ongoing services and maintenance.

This transition has resulted in an increasing number of large-scale and sole-supplier contracts. These have delivered growth in sales and margins and improved earnings. Turnover for the year ended 30 September 2005 was £11.7 million, with a pre-tax profit of £1.6 million. Sales of about £26 million have already been secured for 2006/2007.

Clients include Hilton Hotels, Holiday Inn Hotels, Debenhams, Boots the Chemist, Arcadia and McDonald’s.

The company’s head office is in Manchester, with regional offices in Bedford, Swindon and Edinburgh. There are about 130 employees.

Worthington Nicholls plans to raise up to £15 million by a placing of new ordinary shares to institutional investors.

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