M&A Spotlight: Radius - Electrifying prospects

Helping businesses achieve cost savings and convenience for their fleet management since 1990, Radius is now helping its partners on their energy transition with its range of electric vehicles, charge points and energy solutions. M&A has helped make the journey faster and positioned Radius as future ready.

Radius is about making life easier for SMEs as they manage their fleets, with owners ambitious but often time-poor. Founded above a hairdressers in Crewe in 1990, the firm grew organically for just over 25 years, growing its client base and gaining trust.

The firm’s journey was turbocharged with minority funding of £150m from Inflexion Partnership Capital in 2017, since then an ambitious M&A programme has seen over two dozen acquisitions in five countries expand Radius into new verticals and geographies. These weren’t about adding scale but rather building firm foundations by bringing in capability and people with know-how to ensure Radius could launch in new areas immediately. Building a platform through acquiring software, supplier relationships, and back-end infrastructure would help create a platform for future organic development.

Today Radius generates revenues of over £4bn and operates six business units: fuel, telematics, telecoms, insurance, vehicle solutions, EV and energy. “Going back 10 years, the business was really just fuel cards. We knew we needed a diversification strategy to ensure our customers looking to their own energy transition would stay with us, providing them with a one-stop-solution and helping us to capture a larger share of wallet,” explains Ben Thompson, Managing Director, EV, Energy and Vehicle Solutions at Radius.

The acquisition trail

The firm’s first foray into electric vehicles was a 50% investment into Chargepoint Europe in the Netherlands, enabling Radius to learn about the EV marketplace with a view to building its own business. “It was the perfect first step  on our own EV journey from which to learn and ultimately launch our future EV strategy,” Ben recalls, having joined shortly after the investment.

An EV strategy was built after Ben joined, which comprised all elements of a client’s journey. It started with ensuring Radius was part of the market and could interact with customers as a partner from the outset. Then Radius needed the EV building blocks, which include hardware, installation and maintenance services, a software platform, and charging cards.

With a firm strategy in place, acquisitions were on the cards. Ben’s experience from an advisory background meant he had relevant experience to bring in his new role as Corporate Development Director, and he brought on board Jane Power with similar experience to build out the in-house M&A expertise. Radius had a preference for smaller businesses as it meant the firm could mould and build the acquisitions to it fit with the long-term strategic vision of the Group, with the first two, Global Go! and Traction Finance, forming the foundation of the first new business unit, Radius Vehicle Solutions.

Experience in telematics meant the Radius team knew they needed software for the new EV and Energy initiative, and ultimately purchased a South African business called EV Back Office. Another acquisition in the EV space was EV Charging Solutions and the entities were brought together to form Radius Charge. “We knew that the biggest pain point for our customers was installation and maintenance. We wanted to understand this better and find our own solution to put it right, so we bought EVCS just over a year ago and fundamentally merged our processes to craft the best customer journey,” Ben explains. The founder was among the EV trailblazers in the UK and bringing him into Radius brought real expertise. “Combining our business acumen and infrastructure with his expertise has been a meeting of minds and it’s really improved the customer experience,” Ben enthuses.

The final part of the strategy for Radius’s fledgling EV unit was in the energy space, ensuring clients can manage and monitor their energy consumption efficiently and reducing usage through solar & battery installations, as well as supporting them to procure the best electricity tariff for their needs. The acquisition of Powerhouse Energy helped them achieve all that and was renamed Radius Energy. Ben likens the business model to telematics in that it monitors usage and provides guidance. “We help them be efficient with their use and be cost-effective when buying it,” Ben says.

Small but mighty

The EV and Energy business may be the newest and currently the smallest, but Ben maintains it is one of the primary business units at Radius. He puts this down to two reasons: firstly, as the fuel base starts to transition its energy procurement, this business ensures Radius remains a critical business partner to its customers, and secondly, it’s back to Radius’ roots. “The business is a real amalgamation of the expertise we already have in terms of telematics and a card business. We’re putting a lot of time, energy and money into building the EV and Energy proposition for the future as it will be big. We’re investing for our clients’ futures.”

The green energy transition will take longer than some may like, but Radius is well placed to help its clients on their journeys.

With the platforms firmly in place, the pace of acquisitions will slow at Radius, which will take a more opportunistic approach in future, looking to bring in expertise, people, technology or supplier relationships. Ben is confident that Inflexion will continue to provide a strong sounding board for Radius in its M&A journey, as they bring their experience to bear in entering new markets and assessing prospects.

All Inflexion portfolio companies, regardless of size or ownership stake, have full access to our dedicated value acceleration resources covering digital enhancement, international expansion, M&A, ESG, commercial strategy and talent management. Our M&A expertise has supported more than 470 acquisitions for our portfolio companies, including 100+ international acquisitions across 32 countries.