Status:

Realised

Commitment:

£25m

Date of investment / realisation:

2011 / 2015

Sector:

Technology | Software

Buy & Build:

18 completed acquisitions

“The Horizon Capital team brought clarity to our strategic thinking and helped us to build pace and scale in our business. They helped us focus on creating true value.”

Chris BayneCEO, Access Group

Background

The Horizon Capital team identified the opportunity to build a scaled and integrated provider of business application software tools for more than 5,000 mid-sized UK businesses.  Following comprehensive mapping of the market, Access was acquired in 2011 as an attractive platform with strong technology, a robust market position and diversified customer base.

Working alongside existing management and incoming non-executives, we developed a new strategy for the business – targeting focussed verticals, investing to support organic growth, accelerating the pace of M&A and initiating the switch from on-premise applications to SaaS-deployed software. 

The Journey

We appointed veteran software experts as NX Chairman and NXD and encouraged investment in senior and second-tier management bandwidth and capability across finance, M&A, sales & marketing and application development.

Engineering spend increased significantly and a new Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) platform was developed ensuring that all Access solutions could be deployed in the cloud, in a hosted environment or on-premise. Add-on acquisitions with SaaS capability were prioritised such that by 2015 over 40% of all new licence sales were on a SaaS basis, with the mix of recurring revenue increasing as a consequence.

Following Horizon Capital’s investment, strategy become more vertically oriented.  Marketing, sales, consulting and engineering activities were tailored to target verticals in professional services, not-for-profit, manufacturing & distribution, health & social care. Recurring revenue mix, customer satisfaction and organic growth all improved as a consequence.

Buy and Build

Access’ M&A strategy embraced three main strands: the acquisition of resellers (in order to expand the consultant base and take full control of product distribution);  the acquisition of broader vertical capability (including warehouse management, health & social care); and the acquisition of horizontal functionality (including business intelligence, hosting and payroll services). In total, eighteen add-on acquisitions were completed over three and a half years.

Realisation

During the investment period, net revenue retention grew, revenues doubled (12% organically) and profits trebled to £15m. The Access Group was sold to TA Associates in early 2015 for £231 million.

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