Some of you may recall a blog I wrote in 2011 called The Acquisition Trial, where I talked about how to prepare for an acquisition process from both a vendor and an acquirer perspective.
Since then, CitySprint has made 8 acquisitions, making a total of 13 over the past 3 years. Each acquisition presents its own opportunities and challenges. But the experience of our team and the critical co-operation of the vendor has allowed us to successfully integrate every acquisition, supporting the growth of our company to the scale that it is today, with over 2,500 self-employed couriers, 600 employees and 39 service centres nationwide.
However, it’s not just scale and growth that comes with acquisitions – it’s also about using the vendor’s expertise to expand into new territories, and strategically diversify the business.
We are privileged to have earned the trust of a number of firms over the years, many of which operated a wide range of same day services. And while we are extremely proud of our leading core services in the same day distribution field, we continue to explore new opportunities within the sector.
For example, earlier this year, we acquired Heathrow Baggage Services, a luggage repatriation firm, as we look to support our growing luggage delivery brand, CityBags, and consolidate our position at Heathrow. CityBags itself was a service we acquired through our acquisition of Lewis Day back in November 2011.
We have just announced the acquisition of Southampton-based DASH-IT Couriers, a specialist ‘in-night’ and ‘in-boot’ courier offering stock delivery before 7am. With the help of DASH-IT’s employees, who will be transferring over to CitySprint, we’re looking forward to introducing these new delivery solutions to our B2B customers and helping even more businesses across the UK.
The core elements required to successfully acquire and integrate a business along the acquisition trail, as I outlined in 2011, are brought into stark contrast when extending into new areas. However, it is our experience in acquiring companies - not only in guiding the process and being proactive about the inevitable challenges ahead, but also having a reputation that enables the seller to reference - that has really enabled us to kick on and grow, in size and offering, over the past few years.
This is not to say, however, that we or any experienced acquirer can become complacent about buying a business because we have ‘experience’.
Quite the opposite, in fact.
Many of the businesses we talk to are the result of a vendor’s life work or a family run affair. As we grow, we need to be even more diligent and empathetic when approaching these businesses to avoid scepticism about them being engulfed into a faceless machine.
This is why culture, of our business as it is now and those that we are acquiring, is so very important. Without the right fit, from both sides, it is hard to gain trust on what is likely to be a challenging but rewarding journey along the acquisition trail.
So, if you’re looking to branch out through acquiring, make sure both parties are prepared for the journey ahead, no matter how much experience you have under your belt. As a buyer, you’ll have a lot to learn, and as a vendor, you’ll have a lot to share, so supporting each other throughout the transition period will be key to maintaining ‘business as usual’.
I look forward to CitySprint continuing to add more feathers to our cap, in size and capabilities. We will continue along the acquisition trail, learning at every twist and turn, but always following our growth strategy and building upon the established culture and ethos of the company we are proud of today.