H&H Group to grow sales after livestock deal

The deal creates the largest auction market-based business in the UK. Picture: Ian Rutherford
The deal creates the largest auction market-based business in the UK. Picture: Ian Rutherford
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AGRICULTURAL business H&H Group yesterday unveiled the acquisition of livestock auctioneers John Swan, heralding the deal as strengthening its business portfolio and providing opportunities to grow market share.

H&H, which dates back to 1870, said the public-to-private transaction was backed by an £8 million funding package from Scotland’s Clydesdale Bank.

The rationale for the purchase by the Carlisle-based company is to expand its geographical reach into the east where John Swan runs auction marts at Wooler in Northumberland and Newton St Boswell in the Borders.

It creates the largest auction market-based business in the UK and will also raise H&H’s total sales to £200m, the firm achieving turnover of almost £17m in the year to 30 June.

H&H chief executive Brian Richardson said acquiring John Swan was aimed at “developing the group as a broad-based business with a focus on the rural and livestock sector” and combined two companies with a long heritage in agricultural livestock.

He added: “H&H is firmly focused on this sector and will look to develop throughput at the two sites, alongside providing its land agency and rural insurance services to the customer base at Swans.”

By joining the H&H group, John Swan will sit alongside businesses that serve the rural business community in the south west of Scotland and the north west of England, operating in agricultural and livestock auction marts, property and farming services, as well as printing and insurance services.

The deal was overseen by Craig Stewart and Andrew Carson, senior directors in Clydesdale Bank’s specialist and acquisition finance team.

Stewart said: “This was a highly complex deal, involving communication with a large number of shareholders and an extended legal process.

“We have provided significant funding to H&H over many years and we wished to continue that support by providing acquisition finance for this next step in H&H’s growth ambitions.

“The deal is set to deliver important growth opportunities by boosting H&H Group’s geographical reach and strengthening its position as a leading livestock auction mart.

Legal support was provided by Clydesdale and Yorkshire Banks’ external legal advisors, HBJ Gateley. Partner at the latter firm Euan Cluness said: “By acquiring a business which fits so well with its existing business, H&H Group have created the opportunity to build a truly market-leading position and achieve its ambitions for growth.”