ORBIS

WHY

Orbis (SitexOrbis when we acquired it) was the original provider of vacant property services in the UK, having created the service and the market in the 1980s. Since that time it endured a remarkably turbulent history of ownership while throughout delivering exceptional service to 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 complexity which deterred others, and enabled us to acquire this at a value attractive to Sullivan Street, was a process with zero access to management or sites, a recalcitrant team unaware of the process, and the duopolistic competitor, insisting on retaining the critical brand (Sitex), sitting as the ultimate vendor. Clearly significant risks on the face of it but we had a deep knowledge of the industry, a carefully constructed 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 and committed to an extensive outside-in diligence process, site by site, along with specific protections in the legal documentation, to mitigate these risks and acquire the business.

WHAT

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 were then 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 improvements swiftly followed as Orbis reached margins comparable with the industry.

WHERE

We believed Orbis had the opportunity to be a national niche facilities management player. Once the controls and processes had improved, and the management team in place along with the skillsets and balance of accountability, Orbis was able to build on its customer service and responsive approach and turn itself to a variety of new services required by its core customer base. As it transitioned gradually from a rental to a services model, the company then focused simultaneously on productivity improvements throughout to maintain margins. These services included previously marginal but important services such as re-let work as well as creating the environment and processes where new services such as high technology CCTV towers could be rolled out to diversify the business and allow us to position the company as a niche technology offering.

RESULT

We believed Orbis had the opportunity to be a national niche facilities management player. Once the controls and processes had improved, and the management team in place along with the skillsets and balance of accountability, Orbis was able to build on its customer service and responsive approach and turn itself to a variety of new services required by its core customer base. As it transitioned gradually from a rental to a services model, the company then focused simultaneously on productivity improvements throughout to maintain margins. These services included previously marginal but important services such as re-let work as well as creating the environment and processes where new services such as high technology CCTV towers could be rolled out to diversify the business and allow us to position the company as a niche technology offering.