Canal & River Trust sell marinas to BWML management

The 18-strong portfolio of inland marinas owned by the Canal & River Trust through its BWML subsidiary has been sold for an undisclosed sum to the existing management team. Backing for the team has been provided by LDC, the UK private equity arm of Lloyd’s Bank which invests in medium- sized companies. BWML is the UK’s largest operator of inland marinas.

Established in 2004, as part of the Canal & River Trust, BWML operates and maintains 18 marinas with more than 2,500 boat moorings throughout the UK. Its locations offer a wide range of services including residential and leisure moorings, chandlery, maintenance and repair works.

The investment, for an undisclosed sum, will support the development of the existing marina estate to continue to improve the customer experience, broadening leisure services and adding new locations.

As part of the transaction, Gary Fletcher, who has more than 20-years experience of the leisure sector, will join the board of the business as non-executive chairman. The transaction was led by LDC director Chris Wright and Investment manager Chris Morris. Wright and Andy Grove, LDC’s Head of New Business, will join BWML’s board as non-executive directors.

Jeff Whyatt, CEO of BWML, said: “We have always operated as a commercial entity and have strived to deliver the best possible experience to our customers who visit and reside in our marinas. In LDC we have found a partner that is willing to invest in the management team and site network which will benefit from new and improved facilities to the benefit of our growing customer base.”

Wright commented: “We are excited to be able to provide the investment to support Jeff and his team in growing this established brand in order to enrich the experience of its marina users. With our support, management will focus on delivering improvements across the marina sites and add new locations to further strengthen its brand and market position.”

Stuart Mills, chief investment officer at the Canal & River Trust, said: ”We are delighted to have completed the sale of BWML and will be investing the proceeds into other income-generating assets to support our core work of caring for the nation’s canals and rivers. BWML is performing well and we believe its prospects for future growth are good.  Coupled with the expertise of LDC we believe the business will benefit and, by extension, its boating customers will too.”

LDC was advised by DC Advisory and Gateley plc and the Canal & River Trust was advised by BDO LLP, Vail Williams and Bevan Brittan LLP.