The business was established in Blaby in 1986 by John Edmonds and Karyn Slatter, with two additional practices in Lutterworth and Glenfield added soon after.
In addition to standard services and products, they offer Optomap retinal screening, dry eye clinics, and specialised services in colorimetry, giving them a competitive edge over other high street opticians.
Tim Cole is a dispensing optician and Saagar Hirani is an optometrist, both having made their respective careers in this field. Indeed, Saagar has been with the business since qualifying, 17 years ago. In 2006, the pair bought a partnership in E&S and have been two-thirds of the management team, along with Karyn Slatter, since then. Karyn wanted to exit the business, and Tim and Saagar needed to raise finance to buy out her shareholding.
ThinCats head of credit Simon Brook commented: “This sort of business is superb from a credit perspective. People will keep going back to the same optician, generating regular cash flow. E&S, which offers a higher quality of service, does not seem to have been impacted by competition from the likes of Specsavers. It’s a nice deal.”
Banks don’t necessarily take the same view. The asset cover ratio needed for the MBO was 20-times – not something high street lenders are comfortable with. Tim and Saagar initially approached the business’ bank, which first offered them less than they required and subsequently dropped the offer further. Another bank offered them significantly less so that didn’t work either, as the vendor wanted the full amount up front.
Things took a turn for the better when the firm’s accountant contacted East Midlands-based brokers, Reservoir Finance.
Stuart Milton from the firm says: “Most businesses really don’t seem to be aware of ways of raising capital other than through high street lenders.” Reservoir, however, did. The broker contacted ThinCats and another alternative lender.
Stuart explains: “Within a couple of days of contacting ThinCats, we had an agreement in principle for the facility.”
After the MBO, the business will be run through a limited company, with Tim Cole and Saagar Hirani as joint owners.
We’re delighted to have found ThinCats through Reservoir Finance. From the first meeting with Matthew Lawrence it seemed clear that they had an appetite to lend, and would structure a bespoke loan to meet our needs, rather than provide something off the shelf