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Wendy Lam of Watersheds with Graham Darnell of OTIF Group and Katharine Mortimer of Royds Withy King

South West corporate teams secure third acquisition for growing haulage group

South West corporate finance specialist Watersheds and legal experts Royds Withy King have worked together to enable logistics and warehousing group OTIF to make an acquisition that pushes its turnover above £40 million.

Entrepreneur Graham Darnell, owner of Yorkshire-based OTIF Group, has acquired Barnsley-based John Truswell & Sons (Garage) Limited, a family-run company which has a fleet of 70 trucks and 180 trailers.

John Truswell & Sons (Garage) Limited specialises in distribution across the UK and offers warehousing services, and has an annual turnover of £10 million.

OTIF Group, which is named after the group’s commitment to delivering “on time in full”, has a comprehensive network of haulage contacts as well as its own dedicated transport fleet, and provides cost-effective logistics solutions to some of the UK’s leading retailers.

This latest acquisition is OTIF Group’s third in five years, following the acquisition of Kenyon Group in 2016 and Adam Jones Group in 2019. All were led by Watersheds, and Royds Withy King also supported the Adam Jones Group acquisition.

Graham Darnell said he was delighted with the opportunities Watersheds brought him, after he expressed a desire to strengthen OTIF’s coverage in the north of the UK.

“I started this acquisition journey with Watersheds five years ago, and we have built up a great relationship over that time,” said Graham.

“They understand exactly the type of business I am looking for and once again have delivered what they promised. Despite the pandemic, they somehow managed to bring me an impressive variety of opportunities, all of which were interesting. In the end, though, it was John Truswell & Sons that caught my eye. Like the other acquisitions Watersheds have arranged and completed for me, it is an off-market, strongly performing, highly reputable family business.

“It was particularly important to me that I could continue to focus on running OTIF Group, so once again having Watersheds negotiate the deal, raise the funds and project-manage the process throughout was crucial. There were many parties involved, including three sets of lawyers, funders, property valuers, asset valuers and two sets of accountants, so it was complex, yet they still managed to achieve a completion date within three months of agreeing heads of terms.

“I was also grateful to be working with the Royds Withy King’s legal team again, led by Katharine Mortimer. There was a lot of work to be done by the legal team regarding the funding and the team were able to progress this efficiently and effectively as well as advise me through the legal process.”

“I couldn’t be happier with the way Watersheds and Royds Withy King have made this happen.”

Katharine Mortimer, a partner in Royds Withy King’s corporate team, said: “We were delighted to work with Graham and Watersheds on this latest acquisition.

“Particularly welcome was seeing how the collaboration between buyer and seller worked out in practice. As in all transactions, employee engagement is key and in a company such as Truswells where length of service is measured in decades, it is hugely encouraging to see all parties supporting the business under Graham’s ownership.”

Wendy Lam, a partner at Watersheds, said the firm is delighted to help Graham continue this exciting journey.

“I am pleased we were able to assist Graham again by finding another very successful business that will make a great addition to OTIF Group,” said Wendy.

“This has been one of the smoothest transactions to date and a big contributing factor has been the collaboration with Royds Withy King. Watersheds have worked with Katharine’s team on a number of deals in the past and both understand how critical it is to have the right advisors who will work in partnership, if you want a successful outcome. Graham has a great advisory team behind him, and we look forward to the next chapter together.”

Pictured: Wendy Lam of Watersheds with Graham Darnell of OTIF Group and Katharine Mortimer of Royds Withy King

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