Souter Investments has taken a stake in one of the UK’s most successful solicitors firms to fuel the company’s growth.
Together with JZ International (JZI), Souter Investments has acquired a 60 per cent shareholding in Winn Solicitors Ltd, On Hire Ltd and On Medical Ltd (Winn Group).
Winn’s core management team, led by Jeff Winn, Dawn Winn and Ghazala Bashey, will retain a 40 per cent stake in the company.
All the directors and owners are staying with the business and, together with the investors, are committed to the long-term future of the company. Members of both JZI and Souter Investments will sit on the parent company board alongside Winn’s directors.
The Winn Group is a leading player in the insurance legal service processing market and provides an innovative ‘one-stop’ shop for its customers. It offers an entire accident management process. This includes the integrated provision of legal services, replacement car hire and credit repair services as well as medical treatment services to its customers. In the year to March 31, 2013, the Winn Group generated revenues of approximately £40m and it employs over 290 people at its Newcastle headquarters.
The accident management outsourcing market is undergoing significant consolidation, driven by regulation and the ability to provide low-cost processing. Recoverable costs for low-value claims have recently been fixed by government at £500, a reduction from £1,200.
The Winn service proposition and trusted name uniquely enables the Group to benefit significantly from this consolidation. The investment will allow Winn to continue to expand its one-stop shop for accident management nationally and demonstrates the strength of Winn’s business and its model.
Jeff Winn, a founder of Winn Group, said: “This investment, from JZI and Souter Investments, is recognition of the excellent business we have built up and confidence that Winn Group will further develop its offering.
“We aim to expand the business significantly in the next few years and this investment gives us the backing to do that.
“Winn Group is dedicated to offering the best service for its clients and the best working environment for its employees.”
JZI specialises in investing in and developing small to medium-sized businesses in partnership with founders and entrepreneurs. JZ International has invested in over 30 companies across Europe in all types of business and financial service industries.
JZI’s Senior Partner Martin Wright, said: “The combination of the excellent management of the Winn Group and the operational and financial assistance of the JZI management group will enable Winn to further consolidate its position as one of the leading providers in the outsourced accident management sector in a short period of time.”
Souter Investments is the private investment office of transport company Stagecoach’s founder Sir Brian Souter. In recent years, Souter Investments has been active in investing in a range of businesses, all of which share similar characteristics to Winn, such as strong management teams, good growth prospects and a high degree of integrity.
Souter Investments’ Managing Director, Andy Macfie, said: “We are delighted to be backing Jeff and his management team and investing in such an exciting business. The accident management sector is undergoing a period of significant change at present and we are confident that Winn Group is well placed to grow strongly in this new environment.”
H.I.G. WhiteHorse and Barclays provided debt financing for the acquisition and JZI and the Souter Group have provided growth capital facilities for the development of the Group. The terms of the transaction were not disclosed. The investment has received approval from both the Solicitors Regulatory Authority and the Financial Conduct Authority.
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Winn Solicitors was founded by Jeff Winn and Ghazala Bashey in 2002 after a motorist crashed into the back of Jeff’s car. Frustrated by the losses Jeff incurred from insurers they decided to set up a practice specialising in claiming directly from those at fault.
Since then the company has expanded with two sites, a 22,000sq ft ex-supermarket in Byker and a site on Heaton Road, Heaton, both in Newcastle upon Tyne. Winn Solicitors specialises in a full accident management service known as the 'One Stop Shop', where every aspect of accident compensation cases can be handled including compensation, repairs, replacement vehicles and rehabilitation.
JZI is a private industrial holding company with a focus on investing in small to medium-sized European private companies. Current investments in Europe have in excess of Euro 2 Billion in revenue and 6,000 employees. JZI is the European arm of JZ Advisers Inc, the investment adviser to JZ Capital Partners.
JZ Capital Partners is a $700 million closed fund quoted on the London Stock Exchange. Over the last 25 years, the senior partners of JZI have invested in over 200 companies across a wide range of industries throughout the world.
Souter Investments is the private investment vehicle of Sir Brian Souter, the co-founder and chairman of Stagecoach Group PLC. Souter Investments has investments in a broad range of asset classes including quoted companies, unquoted companies, property and a range of funds.
The primary focus in recent years has been the portfolio of unquoted investments, which includes Virgin Mobile Latin America, the virtual mobile network operator, and Alexander Dennis, the UK’s biggest bus and coach manufacturer.
Souter Investments also has a number of transport investments in New Zealand, Poland and Turkey. Announcements have recently been made on exits for esure, Sunseeker and Argent Energy.