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PKF Francis Clark advises South West company Decorum Vending on private equity raise

PKF Francis Clark has advised the founder of Decorum Vending Limited on raising investment from Cordovan Capital Partners to fund expansion of the rail network vending machine provider.

Decorum was founded in 2015 by Declan Sewell with a focus on bringing a fresh approach to vending within the UK rail sector. With the continued growth of self-service solutions in the UK, the company is committed to moving its customer experience from ‘just vending’ towards ‘unattended retailing’ by offering options such as Build a Basket and Meal Deals. By siting state of the art machinery paired with first class service, the company is already having a positive impact in the sector.

Decorum machines utilise the latest in cashless technology and environmentally friendly refrigeration and lighting units, tailored to the specific requirements of the rail industry. In addition to traditional snack and drink products, the company has partnered with Britvic and Pepsico to provide a healthier alternative with the ‘HelloGoodChoice’ initiative. It is also exploring an exciting partnership with a global coffee brand to provide a non-traditional coffee solution to the rail industry.

Having proven itself on four mainline franchises across the country, in 2019 it successfully tendered for the exclusive vending contract for all Network Rail managed stations, thus gaining access to the highest-footfall sites in the UK. In addition, it is exploring the use of AI and promotional media screens to increase its offering and overall customer experience. These innovations and growth opportunities require significant investment to exploit, leading the founder to seek a funding partner.

Declan Sewell commented:

“This fundraising will provide a launchpad for the next stage of Decorum’s growth. With our premium service offering now well-known in the UK rail sector and the Network Rail contract secured, our aim is to dominate the sector within the next five or so years and ultimately diversify into other markets.

 “Paul and Chris at PKF Francis Clark worked tirelessly to help us make this happen, from assisting in defining our funding requirement to seeking out suitable funders, and ironing out a couple of complications as they arose which could have threatened a successful deal. They also spotted potential tax issues and introduced us to relevant experts at the firm to help us navigate these.

 “Mike and Daniel at Cordovan have also been fantastic throughout the process. It was clear from early in the process that they understood the business and their vision was aligned with Decorum’s which, coupled with the commercial expertise they can bring to the company, led us to select them as our preferred funder. I am really looking forward to working with them over the coming years.”

Mike Irvine and Daniel Anderson led the investment team from Cordovan Capital Partners, a Belfast-based private equity house focusing on growth capital and MBO/MBI transactions. Typically investing up to £2m in post-revenue, EBITDA positive businesses, it provides not only capital but also significant commercial and investment expertise to investee companies.

 Mike Irvine commented:

“Declan and the wider Decorum team have demonstrated that there is a compelling opportunity in the vending and unattended retail sector for those prepared to embrace innovation and provide excellent customer service. With this funding package, we are delighted to support the next phase of Decorum’s growth and look forward to working with the team as they continue to develop the company.”

Paul Stout and Chris Potts from PKF Francis Clark’s corporate finance team advised Decorum on the development of its financial model and business plan, as well as the fundraise itself, whilst Matthew Fretten of Frettens Solicitors provided legal support. Paul Stout said:

Declan has shown great business acumen in identifying the opportunity to disrupt an underserved sector. Decorum’s modern offering and customer-centric approach has appealed to the rail franchises and led to the company establishing a strong foothold and reputation.

 “This equity injection will help propel the company to the next stage in its ambitions, and PKF Francis Clark look forward to supporting Declan and his team in the next phase of Decorum’s journey.”

 Matthew Fretten added:

 “It has been a pleasure to work with Declan and the team at Decorum to help them realise their ambitions. They have identified a fantastic opportunity in the market and have developed a great business plan to take advantage of it.

“Raising capital for investment in  a business requires careful consideration, regardless of how strong your plans are. Thankfully, all parties involved worked well together to ensure the right deal was reached in a suitable timeframe.

 “This is an extremely exciting time for Decorum and we look forward to working with them closely as they grow the business.”

Paul O’Brien and John McGuckian of Tughans Solicitors acted for Cordovan.


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