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Based in Bristol, ICS is the leading provider of temporary healthcare staff in the UK. The company specialises in placing scarce senior and high-grade nurses. ICS’s rapidly expanding complex community care business also provides nursing services to patients in their homes.
ICS has carved out a niche position in the high end of the market as a result of its ability to fulfil customer requests with far greater success rates than any of its competitors. ICS placement rates are typically c.90%, compared to the market average of c.30%. It ensures these excellent placement rates through an advanced centralised call centre and a database of highly skilled, mobile nurses.
Having created a strong business model and trusted brand, the ICS management team were looking for an investor who would support them in expanding the company’s reach across the UK and helping them grow the complex care side of their business.
We knew when we invested in ICS that we were backing the best-performing company in the sector and forging a partnership with an ambitious leadership team that shared our entrepreneurial vision and flair.
Following the transaction, we worked closely with ICS to refocus the business on complex care. This was a strategically shrewd move, given the sector’s potential for highly-recurring revenue, strong demand and protection from government cuts. Indeed, in each of the last two years of our ownership, the high-value complex care business grew by c.40%, while ICS demonstrated impressive overall growth.
The cash generation resulting from ICS’s strong performance enabled us to refinance the business twice in the first 19 months. And with our support, the management team continued to enhance the performance of the business incrementally, delivering significant growth and continued margin enhancement.
We sold the business after just 22 months, having received an approach from the Blackstone Group, who acquired ICS in July 2010, enabling us to realise a return of 2.7x money and an 82% IRR.