Maplin Electronics goes to Graphite

Private equity company Saltire plc has realised its investment in Maplin Electronics via a secondary buyout transaction. The specialist electronics retailer has been sold to Graphite Capital, formerly F&C Ventures, for GBP42 million, to provide the company with the resources to further develop and expand the business.

The transaction involves a refinancing of Maplin led by Graphite as majority shareholders. The institutional equity was provided by Graphite and Bank of Scotland Structured Finance has provided the acquisition debt finance. Existing management retains a minority interest in the business.

Saltire, which at the time of Maplin’s acquisition in 1994 was called Cannon Street Investment (CSI), acquired the entire share capital of Maplin for GBP16 million. In 1999, Saltire was acquired by Compart plc for GBP21.12 million, a company controlled by Saltire executive director Sandy Black and Keith Pacey, managing director of Maplin.

Maplin offers a range of over 15,000 specialist electronic products via its 59 high street stores, mail order catalogue and online service. The company’s turnover has increased from GBP32 million in 1996 to GBP52.5 million in the year to December 2000. For the current financial year, turnover is forecast at GBP58 million.

Pacey says of the refinancing:

“With Graphite’s backing, we now have the appropriate structure and resources for the future and this represents an excellent opportunity for our management team to grow the business.”

The company is looking to expand its retail network to 100 stores over the next few years and further develop its e-commerce operations.