InsightsNewsletterRenatus’ Private Equity M&A Newsletter – 16/06/2024

Renatus’ Private Equity M&A Newsletter – 16/06/2024

Thought for the Week

Employee retention remains a key focus for businesses globally, but following the Great Resignation of 2021, it’s become clear that holding onto key people is about much more than pay rises and other monetary benefits.

In 2022, McKinsey reported that retail jobs, marked by ‘low pay, erratic schedules and irate customers’, have a quit rate which is 70% higher than other US industries. Half of retail workers were considering leaving their job, and of those, half planned to ditch retail entirely. In the UK, retailers have typically needed to replace one of every two workers each year.

Ikea, which was losing $5k for every lost employee, embarked on a major overhaul of its practices. It targeted employee pain points centred on pay and benefits, scheduling, new-hire orientation, new uniforms and even AI tools which alerted managers if employees were at risk of quitting. These tweaks have seen worker attrition fall from 34% and 35% in 2022 in the US and UK, respectively, to 25% and 22% as of 2024. The effect has been amplified in Ireland, with worker attrition falling from 37% to 21%.

Aside from pay rises across many regions, some examples of Ikea’s changes include:

  • One woman with a 2-hour daily commute for 4 six-hour shifts tweaking her schedule to allow 3 eight-hour shifts per week.
  • In India, subsidised daycare for parents, compressed work weeks and more parental leave have been introduced.
  • In the US, an online shift scheduling tool, which allowed employees at the same level to swap shifts if something came up, without the need for manager approval or the previous paper-heavy sign-off process.
  • A focus on training programmes to allow employees to move departments within the company.

The world of work has evolved significantly over the past few years. Pay-related issues will always be in focus, but the Ikea example demonstrates, at least in part, that flexibility has become a huge driver of employee satisfaction and ultimately retention. Pay rises help in the short-term, but it’s clear that listening to employees and solving some of their pains will be the reason they stay on the journey for the long-term.​​​​​​

Source: Bloomberg

Our Portfolio Companies Are Hiring

WH Scott Group is recruiting a Chief Financial Officer. WH Scott Group is a market leader in the UK & Ireland in the design, fabrication, supply, inspection and maintenance of equipment used in regulated, highly technical lifting and industrial markets. It is undergoing a period of rapid expansion both organically and through acquisition. This role will involve managing financial performance, leading value-add initiatives as well as executing and integrating acquisition opportunities. 

Irish Rollforming is recruiting a Finance Director. Irish Rollforming was first established in 2010 by Liam O’Sullivan as a single sheet cladding manufacturer and is evolving to become a leader in the production of highly accredited insulated panelling. The Finance Director will drive reporting, analysis and strategic alignment as the company embarks on a stage of high growth.

If you know anyone who might be interested in the roles outlined above, please email ovisit our website at: Alternatively, feel free to reach out directly to any Renatus team member.  

The Real Deal 2024 Highlights

For those of you who may have missed The Real Deal, or simply want to recap on the day, we have highlighted some insights shared by our distinguished guest speakers, composed of prominent Irish business leaders and entrepreneurs. 

The conference commenced with the highly anticipated “Deal Of The Year” interview featuring keynote speaker Niall Molloy, CEO of Echelon Data Centres. Dive into the full interview below where Niall spoke about his early career, property development, the next wave of Irish investment, data centres, AI, and more. View Niall Molloy’s Interview    

You can also explore the wealth of knowledge shared by all our panellists throughout the day, now accessible to view below: The Real Deal 2024 Video Library

M&A Activity

Davenham Switchgear acquired by Legrand

Deal Details: Davenham Switchgear has been acquired by Legrand. The deal consideration was not reported.

Davenham Switchgear is a Dublin-based provider of low-voltage power distribution systems and components for data centres, pharmaceutical plants and petrochemical plants, among other sectors, in Europe and the US. Founded in 1982, the company is largely owned by John Corcoran with minority shareholders Tony Kavanagh and Paul Mongan. In FY Oct’22 the business reported a turnover of c. €111.0m converting to an EBITDA of c. €27.6m.

Legrand offers a wide range of electrical and digital building solutions targeting a range of sectors operating in 90 countries around the world with c. 38k employees. The business is led by CEO, Benoît Coquart, and is listed on the Euronext Paris. In FY Dec’23 the company reported a turnover of c. €8.4bn, converting to an EBITDA of c. €1.9bn.

Davenham Switchgear:
Deal Advisory: Deloitte led by James Toomey, Thomas Frankum, Christian Schosland, Gavin George, Toby Anthony, Gareth Sullivan, Philippa Reynolds and Yvonne Loughran.
FDD: Forvis Mazars led by Mark Mulcahy, Des O’Brien, Daniel Cibotar and Kevin Boyd.
TDD: Forvis Mazars led by Gerry Vahey, Nicole Hanlon and Aaron Mee.

​​​​​​None Mentioned.

Renatus Comment: Data centre construction is expected to continue to grow at pace globally, with McKinsey reporting that annual spending on new facilities and the expansion of existing facilities is set to reach c. $49bn globally by 2030. Inevitably, companies such as Davenham Switchgear and E&I Engineering (which was acquired in 2021) which operate along the data centre supply chain, will be beneficiaries of this demand. While Ireland’s grid capacity is constraining new data centre construction, Davenham’s exposure to the wider European and North American regions ensures it is well-positioned to continue the impressive pace of growth it has shown to date.

Source: Legrand Press Release

AccountsIQ receives investment from Axiom Equity

Deal Details: AccountsIQ has received c. €60m in series C investment from Axiom Equity.

AccountsIQ is a cloud-based accounting platform based in Dublin. The software aids in multi-currency consolidation, multi-level approvals, 3rd party integration and automation of processes. It was founded by Tony Connolly and has also raised previous funding from Finch Capital. The business does not report turnover or EBITDA information.

Axiom Equity is a London-based investment firm focused on B2B SaaS businesses.

AccountsIQ/ Finch Capital
Corporate Finance: Forvis Mazars led by John Bowe and Sean Damery. 
Legal: (Accounts IQ) Venture Legal Services led by Peppe Santoro, (Finch Capital) Philip Lee led by Andrew Tzialli and Eoghan Doyle.

Axiom Equity:
Legal: Ashurst led by Ben Hewlett and Ellie Conroy.
FDD: James Cowper Kreston
Commercial: Fairgrove Partners
Technology: Seedcloud

Renatus Comment: With the advent of AI, the streamlining and automation of finance function processes will undoubtedly be a focus for businesses. AccountsIQ is positioning itself as a cloud-based, automated solution that can replace outdated accounting software packages. It seeks to position itself as the platform that businesses will move to as they outgrow platforms such as Xero, QuickBooks and Sage, with the aim of competing with the likes of Sage Intacct and NetSuite. It has already managed to gain customers such as PwC, Arix and Nuritas. The focus now is on achieving the next level of scale, with CEO, Tony Connolly, noting that the business has hit the ‘critical milestone’ of 1,000 customers and 20,000 users globally. AccountsIQ’s pace of growth is best demonstrated by its inclusion in Deloitte’s Technology Fast 50 list in 2021.

Source: AccountsIQ Press Release 

Optosafe Ireland acquired by Orbis Protect

Deal Details: Optosafe Ireland has been acquired by Orbis Protect. The deal consideration was not reported.

Optosafe Ireland focuses on the monitoring and install of CCTV, construction security and access management solutions. Based in Meath, the company was founded in 2019 by Ed Mulligan who is the sole shareholder in the business. The business does not report turnover or EBITDA information.

Orbis Protect is a UK-based property, site and personal protection service provider serving businesses of all sizes. The company was acquired by Synova Capital in June 2021 which took a majority position alongside minority investors NorthEdge Capital and a list of individual shareholders including CEO, Ben Howard. In FY Mar’23 the company reported a turnover of c. £62.5m with an EBITDA of c. £3.5m.

Optosafe Ireland:
Corporate Finance: Solara Corporate Finance led by Karl Cleere.
Legal: Ogier led by Oisín McLoughlin, Ryan Duggan, Chelsey Heaney, Hugo Mahony, Lisa Quigley, Gráinne Carey and Marianne Norton.

Orbis Protect:
None Mentioned.

Renatus Comment: The acquisition of Optosafe Ireland is a strategic move by Orbis Protect to expand its presence in the Irish commercial security market. It is a highly regulated industry, governed by the NSAI and PSA, with several examples of M&A roll-ups in recent years, including companies such as Fortus Group and Action24. This being said, the market remains fragmented, with over 1,400 contractors licensed with the PSA. As such, we are likely to see increasing levels of consolidation in the market as larger players seek to cement their market-leading position and avail of the synergies that come with establishing a larger group.

Source: Solara Corporate Finance Press Release

Net Zero Group invests in Caldor Solar and Zetta Home Services

Deal Details: Net Zero Group has acquired a majority stake in Caldor Solar and Zetta Home Services. The deal consideration was not disclosed.

Caldor Solar, is a Kildare-based company that specialises in the installation of solar PV in the residential, commercial and agricultural sectors. The company was founded in 2015 and is wholly owned by managing director, Eoin O’Flaherty. The company does not report turnover or EBITDA information.

Zetta Home Services is a Louth-based company that provides tech-enabled heat pumps and solar PV installation to residential customers. Established in 2022, the company is owned by Ronan Ginnell, Ian Barrett, Michelle Harvey and managing director, Gearoid Harvey. The company does not report turnover or EBITDA information.

Net Zero Group is a decarbonisation platform founded by Waterland Private Equity. The current Group comprises Gaffney Mechanical and O’Connor Heating & Plumbing.

Net Zero Group:
FDD (Caldor): PwC led by Sean Martin and Vicky Ryan.
FDD (Zetta): Moore led by John Coulston, Ray Masterson, Matthew Pearson and Michael Bofin.
TDD (Zetta): Moore led by Colin Dignam, Stephen O’Reilly and Leah Newport. 
Tax: PwC led by Colm O’Callaghan, Conor Meaney and Sarah Cahill.
Legal: Flynn O’Driscoll led by David Ryan, Paddy Jordan, Sean Roche and Danny Heffernan.
Banking: Bank of Ireland led by Jerry O’Sullivan, Muzinich led by Howard Mahon and Rob Judson.
Caldor Solar:
Corporate Finance: Beltrae led by Conor McCullough and James Donnelly.
Legal: Denis McSweeney Solicitors led by Eimear Grealy and Amanda Rogers.
Financial: Kinnear Accountancy led by Mark Raftery. 

Zetta Home Services:
Corporate Finance: KMR led by Barry Mullen and Colm Reilly.
Legal: Holmes Law led by Stephen Walker and Brian Moynihan.

Renatus Comment: The drive towards decarbonisation and ultimately net zero across all industries is certain to gather pace in the coming years, with companies focused on supplying and installing renewable energy solutions set to play a major role. The residential market is seeing a similar uptick in demand, with the SEAI reporting that 14,990 solar panels were installed in 2023, an increase of 175% versus 2022, while an estimated 250,000 Irish homes have now installed heat pumps.

While demand is growing, the younger generations are emerging as more willing to invest in renewable solutions. An EY survey of 23,000 residential energy consumers reported a generational divide among consumers’ willingness to pay a premium for sustainable energy. Per its report, Gen Z (32%) and Millennials (20%) are significantly more willing to invest in sustainable energy solutions compared to Gen X (14%) and Boomers (15%).

Source: Irish Times

CleverCards receives investment from Pluxee

Deal Details: CleverCards has received investment from Pluxee, with existing shareholders also further investing in the business. The total investment was c. €8m.

CleverCards is a global digital payments platform, focusing on business expenses and employee benefits, by issuing digital Mastercards. The business was founded in 2019 by its CEO, Kealan Lennon. CleverCards has an impressive cap table including various successful businesspeople. It has appointed five new non-executive directors to its board, including payments industry veterans Patrick Waldron, Donal Daly, Marc Frappier, Garry Lyons and Viktoria Otero del Val. It does not report turnover or EBITDA information.

Pluxee is a global leader in employee benefits and engagement. The business is a spin-off from Sodexo, originally named ‘Sodexo Benefits and Rewards’. It listed on Euronext Paris in 2023. It had FY Aug’23 revenue of c. €1.1bn, converting to an EBITDA of c. €350m.

Legal: Wallace Corporate Counsel led by Sean Wallace.
Corporate Finance: Interpath Advisory led by Liam Booth and James Gibson.

None mentioned.

Renatus Comment: CleverCards has built on an initial One4All-style gift card offering to now offering corporate expense cards. Its niche is enabling greater finance control over the issue of corporate cards to employees, enabling the mass issue of pre-paid, digital, customisable Mastercards. The demand for its offering, which positions itself as an alternative to the legacy product offering of incumbent banks, is clear. It has onboarded over 10,000 businesses and 350,000 users. Other platforms in the expense management space have also raised significant funding in recent years, with Spendesk raising €100m in 2022 at a unicorn valuation, Pleo raising $200m at a $4.7bn valuation in 2021 and Dublin-based Soldo raising $180m in 2021.

Source: CleverCards Press Release

Emeis sells three nursing homes to Healthcare Activos

Deal Details: Emeis Ireland has completed the sale of three nursing homes to Healthcare Activos. The deal is valued at c. €56m.

Emeis Ireland is a nursing home group with 24 nursing homes and 1 homecare business across Ireland. The three recently built nursing homes are in Portmarnock, Portlaoise and Kilkenny and have 332 beds between them. The group is wholly owned by Central & Eastern Europe Care Services Holdings S.A.R.L. In FY Dec’22 the company reported a turnover of c. €111.9m with an EBITDA of c. €1.9m.

Healthcare Activos real estate investment firm specialising in the healthcare sector across Europe. The company is headquartered in Spain with c. €910m in AUM spread across 64 assets. The business was founded by Jorge Guarner.

Legal: Mason Hayes & Curran led by Robert Dickson, Vanessa Byrne, Niamh Caffrey, Stephen Cowhey, Shane Dolan and Eimear Lyons.

Healthcare Activos  
None Mentioned.

Renatus Comment: The pace of consolidation in the nursing home sector slowed significantly following a spike from 2019-2022, with inflationary pressures, rising interest rates and issues with the Fair Deal scheme representing key headwinds. The Fair Deal scheme, which sees the HSE pay a portion of the cost of a nursing home bed, has not kept pace with the operational costs of these nursing homes. In July, Nursing Homes Ireland (“NHI”) reported that care costs have risen by 36% over the past five years, with weekly rates under the Fair Deal Scheme only rising 3.1% annually since 2017. While a decline in interest rates and slowing inflation will benefit the sector, operational pressures look likely to persist, with NHI continuing to call for additional public funding through the Fair Deal scheme to support the operation of care homes, with an ageing population likely to continue to increase demand.

Source: Emeis Press Release

Bretzel Bakery to acquire Arbutus Breads

Deal Details: Bretzel Bakery is set to be acquired Arbutus Breads at the start of July. The deal consideration was not reported.

Bretzel Bakery, based in Dublin, produces a variety of artisan breads, with additional bakeries in Kildare. The company is majority owned by William Despard. The company does not report turnover or EBITDA information.

Arbutus Breads is a Cork-based artisan bakery specialising in sourdough and yeast breads. The company is owned by Declan and Patricia Ryan, both of whom will retire post-acquisition. The company does not report turnover or EBITDA information.

None Mentioned. 

Renatus Comment: Declan Ryan was Ireland’s first Michelin star chef and took over Arbutus in 1970, with his wife Patricia. This represents an ideal succession option for the business, as Declan and Patricia retire, with an aligned business that also values superior quality over quantity. Furthermore, the acquisition of Arbutus will expand Bretzel Bakery’s presence in Munster, having already established a strong presence in the Leinster region.

Source: Irish Times

Deal Updates & Other News

Brenson Lawlor joins PKF Global

Deal Details: Brenson Lawlor has joined PKF Global as a member firm and rebranded as PKF Brenson Lawlor.

Brenson Lawlor offers medium to large enterprises a range of financial services with 115 partners and staff across two offices in Dublin.

The PKF network consists of 214 member firms operating under the PKF brand across 150 countries.

Source: PKF Press Release

Company Performance

EBITDA  is an accounting term and is often the best indicator of profitability in non-capital intensive businesses before financing and tax are considered. In capital-intensive businesses EBIT or EBITDA less average Capital Expenditure are often better measures. YoY is an acronym for the year-on-year movement in turnover, EBITDA, etc.

Cahalane Brothers Limited is a general building contractor offering contracting, design & build, development and maintenance services. The company is owned equally by Donal Cahalane, Cian Cahalane and Conor Cahalane.

In its financial year to December 2023, the business reported a turnover of c. €31.6m, a year-on-year increase of c. 2.9%. This converted to an EBITDA of c. €1.4m, a c. 27.7% year-on-year increase. This increase in EBITDA was primarily driven by gross margin expansion in the business.

The business finished the year with a cash balance of c. €3.4m, a c. €1.1m increase on FY Dec’22. Significant post-EBITDA cash movements included tax paid and the purchase of tangible assets by the business.

The company employed an average of 95 people over the period at a total cost of c. €4.8m.


Who: XOcean, the Louth-based manufacturer of autonomous boats used to survey the ocean for offshore developments.

What: The business has raised €30m in funding. Of this, €20m was venture-debt funding from the European Investment Bank with other funds coming from VentureWave Capital, Endeavor Catalyst and Enterprise Ireland.

Why: The funding will be used to further internationalise and improve the technology of the product.

Source: Irish Times

Who: Simply Blue Group, an Irish renewable energy developer.

What: The business has raised c. €7m from Octopus Renewables Infrastructure Trust PLC.

Why: The funding will be used to develop its pipeline of offshore wind and sustainable fuels projects as it looks to raise long-term strategic funding.

Source: ORIT Press Release

Who: Wizso, a water saving flush tablet start-up based in Northern Ireland.

What: The company raised £350k in a second seed funding round.
​​​​​​​​​Why: The funds will be used to develop the product and tap into environment-conscious consumers and enterprise.

Source: Belfast News Letter

Who: Reap Interactive, a livestock monitoring solution designed to optimise cattle management using a weighing scale and water trough.  

What: The company raised €1m in private investment through a combination of Enterprise Ireland and another private equity investor.
​​​​​​​​​Why: The funding will be used to hire more staff for sales, marketing and field operatives.

Source: Business Post

Who:  The Misunderstood Heron, a Connemara based seafood truck.

What:  The business has received €63k in funding supported by Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM).
​​​​​​​​​Why: The investment will be used to improve energy and waste efficiency, as well as to acquire new kitchen equipment.

Source: Business Plus

Executive and Board Appointments

Gavin Cullen

(Google Images & LinkedIn)

Sarah Jennings

(Google Images & LinkedIn)

@RenatusCapital Tweets


The proportion of electricity that came from wind farms in Ireland for the first five months of 2024 according to @WindEnergyIRL


The proportion of new buildings in some counties that are being inspected to see if they are compliant with regulations according to @SCSISurveyors


The proportion of Irish SMEs that export goods abroad according to @DeptEnterprise

c. 30%

The proportion of workers in roles that are at risk of being replaced by AI according to @DeptEnterprise

About Renatus

Renatus was established in 2014 to provide growth funding to growing Irish SMEs and to partner with ambitious management teams to help companies reach their full potential.

Renatus targets companies with sustainable earnings of €1m+ and valuations typically in the range of €5m – €20m. Our typical solutions include:

  • Succession planning
  • Management buyouts
  • Management buy-ins
  • Growth financing – both organic and acquisition growth financing
  • Full and partial share sale

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