Steadfast partnerships in African private equity often define the difference between success and failure, according to Ethos Private Equity.
Jos van Zyl, Partner at Ethos Private Equity, said that “despite painstaking analysis of industry and company fundamentals, things don’t always go to plan”.
Commenting on its recent divestment of Plumblink, a South African specialist plumbing and bathroom merchant, van Zyl said that Ethos originally acquired Plumblink in 2006 premised on a buoyant outlook for the South African building and construction market.
“For the first 24 months our rationale was correct. However, in the wake of the global financial crisis the business was significantly adrift from target,” he said.
Van Zyl said that Ethos believed in Plumblink’ fundamentals: “Crucially, we believed that with the right management team Plumblink could be repositioned for recovery and return to the trade winds.”
“We reassessed the strategic direction of the business – examined people, the business model, operations, finances, information systems and customer segments. With management as partners, changes were made,” he said.
“So strong was our conviction, that Ethos twice injected additional capital to make headway. And twice our courage paid off,” he added.
Plumblink is a specialist plumbing, bathroom and kitchenware merchant currently operating from 55 branches strategically situated throughout South Africa.
More than 10,000 quality products are sourced from over 200 of the local and international suppliers including exclusive ranges.
Plumblink continues to expand its footprint and product range, including its house brand, Plumline.
“Today, Plumblink is a different business to that which we acquired nine years ago. It is stronger, more robust and more sustainable than it was prior to Ethos’ ownership,” commented Van Zyl.
Ethos Private Equity has agreed to sell Plumblink to the Bidvest Group for an undisclosed sum, subject to the fulfillment of certain conditions.
On conclusion of the transaction, Bidvest will hold 100% of Plumblink’s share capital.
“Investing is not all plane sailing. You can’t direct the wind. But you can adjust your sails,” said Van Zyl.