Orbis was the original provider of vacant property services in the UK, having created the service and the market in the 1980s. Since then it has had a remarkably turbulent history of ownership while throughout it all the company has always delivered for its customers. In the fifteen years prior to our acquisition it had seven different custodians, latterly being managed by the Competition Commission from whom we acquired it. The process to acquire it was an unusual one, where we were unable to access management or sites, but we did have a knowledge of the industry, a carefully built up understanding of the financials and a belief that any workforce consistently delivering for customers under those ownership conditions was worth backing. We saw the opportunity to bring long-term stability to the business and return it to market profitability.
After we acquired the company in 2013, the crucial first thing to do was bring stability and a belief that we were invested for the long-term. Management needed a complete overhaul and both partners at Sullivan Street took executive roles in the business, both to take a firmer control during a period of transition and demonstrate how committed we were to the company.Significant improvements have been made to the controls and processes in the business, and the balance of central and regional accountability, as well as the sales structure, skillsets and training. The result was a reversal of steep revenue declines to strong revenue growth within two years, and profitability has since followed as Orbis reaches margins comparable with the industry.
Orbis has the opportunity to be a national niche facilities management player. We will continue to improve the controls and processes at the business so that it is able to build on its customer service and responsive approach, in order to urn itself to a variety of new services required by its core customer base. As it transitions gradually from a rental to services model we will focus the company on productivity improvements throughout to maintain margins. These improvements will also enable selective acquisitions which we will back management to integrate, learn from and roll out nationally.