Sale of Ambulance Service Provider
Our approach to selling businesses is often specifically geared to finding a strategic buyer with the advantage of synergies with the vendor and proven expertise in the area in which the vendor’s business is involved in. This was certainly the case in the sale process with Local Medical Services (LMS), an ambulance service provider which had experienced an impressive growth trajectory throughout its trading history and was set on a course for further growth, in the hands of the right acquirer.
Established in 2012, LMS developed with a vision to prioritise patient care within the private health sector. Led by the core principles of providing qualified, skilled and caring staff using leading-edge equipment, the company had achieved steady growth in reputation and market share, generating a turnover of £1.4m at the point of us taking on the mandate.
As a Care Quality Commission registered provider of Patient Transport and Event Medical Cover Solutions, LMS delivers patient care, first aid and transport for clients in the private sector and the NHS. The business built a varied client base serving multiple ambulance services across the UK as well as working directly with hospitals and organisers of private events.
LMS’s reputation was also due in no small part to its ability to attract well qualified employees, with a full range of healthcare professionals from First Aiders to GMC registered doctors. Company operations were conducted from fully equipped facilities with on-site mechanics a body repair shop and the latest cleaning facilities for fleet of ambulances.
The company had been acquired by the vendor in 2017 and was focused on providing onsite ambulances services for the events sector pre-pandemic. Despite having a part-time job as a paramedic for the NHS, the vendor was able to pivot the business at the onset of the lockdowns to providing emergency ambulance services to local healthcare authorities across the South and Midlands of the UK, which had resulted in a steep uptick in revenues and activity.
The increased demand for ambulances highlighted a challenge which would need to be considered in the search for the right acquirer. One key aspect of LMS’s future growth was the ability to expand the fleet of ambulances with good dependable vehicles.
The business first went on the market with Hornblower in January 2021. Following a period of in-depth research, we targeted several potential strategic buyers through our extensive database. This action resulted in raising a tremendous amount of interest in LMS.
By the time we reached the Heads of Terms stage of the process, we had received 70 enquiries which we qualified down to focus on around 4 serious and funded parties for whom LMS represented a good fit. Leading the negotiations on behalf of our client, we were able to present several good offers for our client.
LMS, was acquired by iOn, a CQC registered independent ambulance operator with a national presence. The acquisition has proved to be a favourable strategic fit, with a highly experienced management team with solid experience of running NHS contracts and offering frontline support, paediatric and adult HDU transfers and bariatric services.
This acquisition is of great benefit to LMS, placing the business under a larger provider umbrella, delivering cost synergies particularly in relation to vehicle maintenance and providing the ability to tender for further large NHS contracts and fulfil them from a number of ambulance depots around the country. The deal also accommodated the challenge of adding to the fleet of ambulances, bringing in the resources and expertise required to exploit the full growth potential that the vendor had set in motion.
The vendors and the buyer quickly established a good working rapport, with the buyer able to move swiftly to complete the deal. The vendor remains a key manager in the business going forward without the overall responsibility and time commitment that comes with business ownership.
Heads of terms were signed in July 2021 and the deal completed mid October 2021. The deal was managed by our Bristol based Business Sales and Acquisitions Consultant, Sally Tankard. Sally manages business sales for Hornblower across the South West UK. The vendors were also advised by Charles Cook and Ed Schofield of Cook Corporate (Legal).
SOLD – October 2021