Top importer KandyToys Limited acquired by management team

A Devon company, which has become one of the UK’s top importers of toys, gifts, beach goods and confectionery has been acquired by its management team for an undisclosed sum.

KandyToys Limited, based on the outskirts of Exeter, was established by David Kirkby and Andrew West in 1978. From humble beginnings it now has an annual turnover of more than £17 million, operating out of over 250,000 square feet of warehouse space in Clyst St Mary.

The business has been highly successful in introducing new products to meet changing market demands while, at the same time, keeping key items well stocked with industry-wide acclaimed service levels.

The business has a loyal and diverse customer base in the South West and beyond, ranging from sole traders and amusement parks to national wholesalers, supermarkets and renowned high street chains.

The deal enables the management team, Gary Beswick (Managing Director), Mark Hall (Finance Director), Mark Hookway (Sales & Buying Director) and Freddie Martin (Operations Director), to take a shareholding in the business.

David Kirkby will remain involved in the business and take on the role of Chairman. The management team, led by Gary Beswick, has worked with KandyToys for many years in a consultancy capacity and handling worldwide sales from the Hong Kong offices.

As part of the deal, Planet Direct Limited will become part of the KandyToys group and allow the team to develop and grow the M.Y brand of family sporting goods, games and toys.

Gary Beswick said: “Having worked closely with David and Andrew for over 20 years it is a fantastic honour to have been entrusted to put together a team to take over KandyToys and lead them forwards into new challenges and a new chapter in the growth of such a well-established and respected company.”

Legal support for the transaction was provided by Louise Workman and Kathy Cracknell at Ashfords (acting on behalf of the management team) and Terry Chetwood at Morgan & Pope (for the shareholders). Stephens Scown advised HSBC which funded the deal.

Louise Workman, Partner at Ashfords commented: “KandyToys is an innovative company with a growing international reputation and we are delighted to have been able to assist the management team in taking this exciting and richly deserved step. We wish the team every success as they move into this next phase and look forward to seeing the firm take on new challenges and continue to develop under its owners.”

Paul Crocker and Matt Willmott of PKF Francis Clark corporate finance advised the business on the deal, including assistance with raising the finance, financial modelling, deal structuring, taxation advice and project managing the transaction.

Paul Crocker, Corporate Finance Partner at PKF Francis Clark, said: “KandyToys is an impressive and highly successful business led by an experienced management team who have worked within the business for a long period of time.

We’re delighted to have advised on the deal, especially as its enables the management team to take the momentous step of owning the business, rewarding many years of loyalty. It’s a testament to both David and the team that the business continues to go from strength to strength.”

Funding for the deal was provided by HSBC which has been KandyToys’ bank for many years, providing both loan finance and working capital funding to support the import of products from the Far East.

James Jordan, HSBC’s Head of Corporate Banking in the South West, said: “We have an established relationship with KandyToys stretching back almost two decades. In that time we have seen the business go from strength to strength and we’ll continue to support David, Gary and the wider team as they go through this evolutionary phase.”

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