‘Accelerating the pace of change together’
After a successful four years, we recently exited our investment in TTC Group, the leading driver risk management and road safety training provider, with the sale of the business to management backed by Pricoa Private Capital.
As he prepares to lead the business into the next stage of its growth journey, TTC Group CEO Jim Kirkwood reflects on the “strong, positive and collegiate” relationship he and his team built with Palatine.
“TTC is a very different business to the company Palatine backed in 2017. Together we collaborated very well and achieved a lot as our revenues grew from around £25m to more than £40m.
It was mine, and the teams’ first experience of working with a private equity firm, and it was a positive one.
Palatine knew when and where to help, and, importantly from my perspective, when to stand back and let our operations team find the necessary solutions as in the recent Covid pandemic during the Spring of 2020.
I built up good working relationships with their people – Gary Tipper, Tony Dickin, Richard Thomas and James Painter – and the fact that this investment team remained involved throughout brought consistency, stability and continuity.
Looking back, there were a number of highlights, including two significant acquisitions, Business Driver and Licence Bureau, which have transformed our corporate division.
They also supported us as we invested in our technology and talent as part of our strategy to professionalise and move from being a family business into a fast-growing mid-market corporate.
Palatine’s Value Creation team were very good too, sharing ideas and best practice from across their portfolio which was really useful too.
In benign market conditions agreeing and implementing a strategy is one thing. However, what we saw in the early part of 2020 was uncertainty and challenge, on a scale never before experienced as the pandemic took a hold.
Thanks to the investments we had made as part of our digitisation strategy with Palatine’s support we were able to accelerate the pace of change in the business and quickly move our police division’s operations from classroom-based to a virtual setting.
Throughout this unprecedented time, I was grateful for both Palatine’s support, help and insight – they were at our side when we needed them.
Helping management teams unlock growth by providing extra resources, bringing intellectual firepower and constructive challenge is naturally expected of an equity partner, and Palatine delivered this in spades.
But there was more to our partnership than this. Our business benefitted significantly from their deep commitment to the ESG agenda, and it’s now become firmly embedded in how we work and is driving value.
Working with Palatine’s ESG team, the TTC management team and I were able to implement a number of beneficial initiatives. This includes digitising our customer bookings and contact system which allowed us to be much more efficient, saving paper and postage costs, while also improving our carbon footprint.
ESG is now front and centre of how we work – our commitment to ESG earned us an award from the BVCA last year, which I know was well received by the team and our customers.
Furthermore, thanks to introductions from the team, or through attending events put on by Palatine for its portfolio companies, we made some very useful connections.
This ranged from building my peer network with other CEOs – like Peter Eglington of CET, to using the services of Cyberfort – who now secure our I.T. networks – and even acquiring new customers after Gary connected us.
As I have said, working with Palatine was a positive experience on a number of levels, and I wish the team every success with their future investments.”