Centre Makes Ties With Office Supplies –

About a year ago, Centre Partners Management set out to target the office supplies sector, linking up with industry veteran Robert Scribner to guide the firm as it traversed the space. A year later the team made its first acquisition in the sector with the buyout of ESS Holdings and its subsidiaries EMCO Sales & Service and Action Wholesale Service, which upon completion of the deal changed its name to ActionEmco Holdings.

From toilet paper to paper clips, ActionEmco provides everything an office needs. “It has over 24,000 sku’s and it is a key player in the wholesaling of these products to the office network,” said Centre Partners Managing Director Bruce Pollack. To be sure, the company is profitable and posts revenue of more than $100 million.

Terms of the transaction were not disclosed, although Pollack put the purchase price at “less than $50 million, but more than $20 million.” KeyBank National Association provided the debt, which took the form of a senior, asset-based line of credit.

“The attraction of this deal was that it gave us the opportunity to put Bob [Scribner] into a business,” Pollack said. “He’s had deep experience with ESS, having been the CEO of their largest competitor, and he has a vision of how to grow the business.”

Scribner was introduced to Centre by Bryant Park Capital, a New York City-based investment bank and he has taken over the CEO role for ActionEmco. Prior to his partnership with Centre, Scribner had moved around the office supplies industry taking posts as president and CEO of Esselte Office Products, president and COO of SP Richards Co. and vice president and general manager of Hunt Corp.

Centre will look to build the business through a combination of select acquisitions and organic growth. “Just by managing the existing markets we serve -managing them in a way that provides the best customer service -we should be able to grow as our customer base grows,” Pollack said.

Centre used its Centre Capital Investors III LP fund for the acquisition, which Pollack said has about $365 million in committed capital. The fund is roughly 75% invested following this latest transaction, and Pollack indicated the firm could begin fund raising sometime in the near future. Centre has been active lately, and this past summer completed a $200 million buyout of Bumble Bee Seafoods from ConAgra.

Snap Shot

Targets Revenue: >$110M

Centre’s Advisors: Bryant Park Capital

Centre’s Lawyer: Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP

Intermediary: Butler Chpman & Co.