Auto Windscreens

Provider of automotive glass repairs throughout the UK and Eire

Auto Windscreens was a brand well known to UK drivers providing automotive glass repair and replacement services throughout the UK and Eire. In addition to cars, the business also covered replacing glass in plant and commercial vehicles and a nationwide service of replacing stolen audio units. Established in 1971, Auto Windscreens was one of only two service providers in the UK with complete national coverage, employing 1,500 people and running over 700 mobile units.

The business depended on tight co-ordination of services across the country, needing to ensure it had access to approximately 9,000 different product lines 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, to meet the high quality of service required by its customers. Its central distribution warehouse was based in Birmingham and delivered stock daily to its 151 depots.

Montagu successfully won control of the business when it was put up for sale by Heywood Williams Group plc. We led and arranged the financing to complete the transaction which included a £10 million (€16 million) mezzanine facility underwritten by HSBC.

Montagu was attracted to the business for a number of reasons. It enjoyed an unusually strong position in its market and the requirement for a comprehensive national network of depots, supported by quality stock management procedures, represented a significant barrier to market entry. The business was also more resilient than most in times of recession - the number of cars on UK roads does not fluctuate significantly during a downturn. In addition, the business boasted a very diverse customer base, including all of the UK's major motor insurers and many of the biggest fleet users.

Having won through the auction process, Montagu recognised the abilities of the incumbent management team who had worked together for over ten years and had delivered a track record of uninterrupted growth. As a result, we were delighted to invite the incumbent team to subscribe for equity in the business and work with them to take the company forward.

The business was successfully sold in March 2001 to Lex Service for £112 million          
(€180 million).

Deal details

Deal type: Management Buyout Investment Year: 1998 Country: United Kingdom Status: Realised Value: £98 million Industry Sector: Consumer