Marston Holdings is the largest mid-market player in the Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) sector, with private equity backing from ICG. Following several years of rapid, private equity-backed, acquisitive growth and a focus on central and local government contracts Marston Group competes with Capita and G4S in tender processes whilst offering relationship driven and bespoke services.
The Marston Group was formed by the merger of two similarly sized business in 2017, Marston Services & NSL. NSL and Marston Services will continue to operate as separate businesses, with investment and support from Marston Holdings (Group). The combined Group turnover is c.£300m (EBITDA £48m). The two businesses operate in different but complementary markets, share similar client bases and both have expertise in operating nationwide field forces. The combined business will generate service delivery improvements for clients.
Marston Services is the UK’s largest judicial services Group with circa 2,000 staff and self-employed agents recovering £300 million per year on behalf of taxpayers, businesses and individuals through ethical and integrated court order compliance. Marston Services was initially private equity backed by Gresham, who delivered a successful exit to Inflexion in 2012. Following an aggressive M&A strategy, under Inflexion, Marston Services grew to c.£140m t/o (EBITDA £30m) with seven acquisitions in four years. Inflexion then sold their stake to ICG in 2017.
NSL operate in local and central government, health, airports and the private sector offering business process management, enforcement, patient care, passenger transport, street and estate management and technical design consultancy. In 2010, AAC Capital Partners acquired a majority stake in NSL from 3i. The enterprise value of the transaction was £120m, with the existing management team reinvesting the transaction to drive future growth. Following AAC’s investment, the business increased revenues by a third and now has significant contracts and expertise in business process management, enforcement, patient care, passenger transport, street & estate management and technical design. At the time NSL was sold to Marston Group, it was turning over c.£160m (£18m EBITDA). In January 2017, AAC sold their stake to Marston Holdings and NSL became part of the Marston Group.
Axon Moore’s relationship began with NSL began in 2016 when the decision was taken to relocate their finance function from London to Manchester. Following the expiration of a lease on NSL’s London office the group and it’s CFO, Hayden Robinson have decided to relocate the finance team to the NW where NSL already has a significant presence in its Oldham-based contact centre. This relocation was viewed as an opportunity to build a high calibre core finance function, upskill the finance team and drive improvements in the analysis and reporting of MI, FI and KPIs through the rationalisation/simplification of existing processes, data and systems. The first part of this process was delivered through the relocation of the Group Finance team under John Rothery and there was a need to recruit and then transition the team within 4-5 months.
When many people may have viewed the opportunity to join NSL at this time in what may be viewed as an un-glamourous sector, Axon Moore immediately recognised the potentially career defining opportunity for candidates to join a complex, growing and highly acquisitive PE-backed business during a time of positive change. Axon Moore was exclusively retained to deliver the lift and shift against extremely tight timescales and over a 3 month period Axon Moore successfully identified the following team members for the new finance function:
Axon Moore are the leading consultancy in finance appointments in private equity-backed businesses, with great testimonials and a deep understanding of the expectations on finance in these scenarios, calibre of individual needed and potentially career defining opportunities for candidates. Working extremely closely with the Director of Finance to ensure Axon Moore was closely aligned to the client’s requirements, Steve Gillan project managed the entire recruitment process, delivering superb candidates into career defining opportunities against the agreed timescales, allowing the finance team to focus on the controlled migration of processes and data.
“The combination of finance expertise, in-depth knowledge of talent and understanding of culture & team dynamics was unique and allowed us to almost completely delegate recruitment, freeing up time to focus on process and system improvement and the successful delivery of the relocation. We continue to work with Axon Moore exclusively and would now consider them a key strategic partner. I would have no hesitation in recommending them in the future.”
John Rothery, Director of Finance, NSL Ltd
In January 2017, NSL merged with Marston Services to create Marston Holdings and following the appointment of a new Group CFO the business embarked on a restructure of its finance team. Axon Moore worked closely with the Executive team to offer advice on the future structure of the team, providing insight into available talent and market dynamics. Following this, Axon Moore was once again retained to act as the Marston Group’s recruitment partner.