Preston Innovations sold to Zebco Brands of the US
Preston Innovations is the UK’s leading match fishing brand as well as having a growing presence in the coarse, carp and bait segments of the market with its brands Korum, Avid Carp and Sonubaits.  The business, which has turnover in excess of £17 million, is growing rapidly on the back of strong growth in Europe including through Primo, its Dutch distribution business.  Birmingham-based Cattaneo LLP was appointed by Prestons in February this year to identify potential purchasers and subsequently approached a number of leading industry players across the globe. Freeths was retained by Prestons to advise on the legal aspects of the sale.

Zebco, based in Oklahoma, is the fishing tackle business of Georgia-headquartered WC Bradley Co group, a multi-brand supplier of high quality consumer goods focused on the home and leisure lifestyle markets.  Zebco had been looking for some time to add to its European business and the strong fit between the two businesses was a key factor in bringing the deal together.  Zebco retained the Birmingham office of Grant Thornton as lead corporate finance adviser and to provide financial due diligence on the transaction.

David Preston, founder and sole shareholder in Prestons, commented,

“I am extremely proud of the business we have built, but felt we had reached a size and complexity which were better suited to a new owner who could exploit the clear growth potential of Prestons in Europe and beyond.  Zebco is a strong international player which has a desire to expand the business in the UK and Europe and which has access to the capital to realise the potential in the business.”

Jeff Pontius, the President of Zebco’s worldwide business said,

“I am pleased that David chose us to continue building the Prestons brands.  We have been looking to expand in Europe, and in particular have been looking for a premier player in the match and carp segments. We see enough size and diversity in the European market place to allow both businesses to continue growing.  They are generally complementary with different brands and geographic strengths.  The team at Prestons has a lot of passion for building their brands and we will be there to support that growth.”

Charles Cattaneo of Cattaneo LLP added,

“Prestons is the premium brand in its market and having established strong interest on an international basis we then set about selecting the right partner for the business and running an efficient process, working closely with Freeths, to deliver the right deal for our client.  Zebco and WC Bradley are sizeable businesses with the financial strength to really accelerate the growth of the Prestons brands and we are delighted to have concluded a deal.”

Maria O’Donnell, associate director in Grant Thornton’s advisory team in Birmingham, said:

“This was WC Bradley/Zebco’s first acquisition in the UK so a vital element of Grant Thornton’s role included using our experience in deals involving US-based acquirers to advise WC Bradley on the nature and practices of UK vendors.”

The Cattaneo LLP team comprised Charles Cattaneo and Martyn Pilley while John Heaphy and Freya Summers of Freeths LLP provided legal advice to David Preston on the sale.  Zebco was advised by Maria O’Donnell and Peter Evans (corporate finance) and Alex Hyde (due diligence) of Grant Thornton with legal advice provided by the London office of Baker & McKenzie.