City region logistics firm acquires freight forwarder

Liverpool city region ecommerce and logistics specialist Emerge Ecommerce completes acquisition of Gatwick freight forwarder. Tony McDonough reports

Mark Bigley
Mark Bigley, co-founder of Emerge Ecommerce

 

Ecommerce and logistics specialist Emerge Ecommerce has acquired an air and sea freight forwarder based in Gatwick.

Emerge, based in Widnes, says it has completed a “strategic investment” in Seaspace International Forwarders. This is the second Emerge acquisition in less than a year. In September 2021 it bought Berser International Cargo Services in Newcastle-under-Lyme.

Seaspace was founded in 1988 and has operated for more than 30 years. It has become a respected name in freight forwarding and logistics. It works across air freight, sea freight and fulfilment.

Its majority shareholder, who had already passed responsibility to the management team, will retain a “sizeable interest” in the business. The value of the deal has not been disclosed but most recent filings on Companies House show Seaspace having assets of just under £500,000.

Emerge secured funding for this deal, and the 2021 acquisition, through a combination of debt facilities from Arbuthnot. It provided term loans and an invoice discounting facility. Liverpool business funder MSIF also provided a mezzanine facility. This is a hybrid of debt and equity financing.

Mark Bigley and Richard Harris, co-founders of Emerge, plan to grow Seascape’s existing revenue streams. They will also develop new services to existing and new customers.

They said: “We utilise our knowledge, experience and technology to provide insight and understanding to develop the process of moving items through the supply chain.

“It is exciting to see the plan we set in motion three years ago being realised, enabling SMEs to move anything from anywhere to anywhere around the world. Seaspace is a key piece of the jigsaw, extending our air and sea freight capability.

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“Our shareholders are very supportive of the shared vision we have for the business. We have already embarked on a technology deployment that will enable us to increase capacity, with a view to achieving the next stage of growth.”

Deal advisory advice was provided by Paula McGrath, Dan Rice and Sean Gardner of Brabners Deal Advisory. They worked with Emerge to structure the transactions and raise a financial package to support both deals.

Michael Murphy, corporate partner at Hill Dickinson, provided legal advice to the Emerge management team. Legal advice for Arbuthnot and MSIF was provided by David Gledhill at Bermans and Denise Walker at Glenville Walker, respectively. DSG provided financial due diligence support.

Paula McGrath added: “I have known Mark Bigley for a number of years and helped him in a previous role to raise private equity funding to support strategic growth. I’m pleased to see Richard and Mark invest in Seaspace seven months after Berser.

“The transaction brings together two highly complementary businesses. Mark and Richard will focus on the integration of the two businesses to leverage their combined strength and to drive future growth.”

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