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LAVA Advisory Partners secures private equity deal for Silverfish

LAVA Advisory Partners announce their third transaction in the hobbyist retail space following an investment agreement between the management team of UK cycling distributor Silverfish and investors at Connection Capital.

Founded in 1999 by Darren and Sarah Mabbott, Silverfish has experienced over two decades of excellent growth, with its curated portfolio of cutting-edge brands and prestigious partnerships placing the company at the forefront of the high-end mountain biking industry. 

The pandemic supercharged this growth, presenting Silverfish with a new wave of interest and traffic as the cycling sector boomed. Following recommendations from Source BMX, who recently worked with LAVA on a successful capital funding agreement, the shareholders of Silverfish recruited LAVA to help them capitalise on this surge and bring on board a partner to pursue multiple growth opportunities while de-risking personal investment. 

Ensuring Silverfish could maintain its focus on rising business demand, LAVA embarked on an M&A process that was thorough yet highly efficient, switching out traditional practices for smart strategies that would simultaneously protect management’s time and deliver the best results.

Spending time upfront with Darren and his team, LAVA gained a solid understanding of the company’s needs and goals, allowing LAVA’s lead advisors to rule out alternative investment routes and initiate a dual-track process. Sourcing interest from trade acquirers and private equity investors, the LAVA team utilised their deep research capabilities to identify a long list of international parties, which was then shortlisted to provide the Silverfish shareholders with a clear picture of their available options.

As private equity investment emerged as the favourable route, LAVA combined their deep knowledge of the mid-market private equity space with their signature research capabilities to produce a shortlist of high-quality candidates that met suitability, interest and deliverability requirements. These parties were thoroughly vetted using a more personal, direct and senior-led approach than typically seen in standard M&A practice, saving Silverfish significant time and resources.

The Silverfish deal is an example of how templates don’t exist at LAVA. Our approach is highly tailored, so we always find the best way of securing an outstanding outcome. In this case, that meant ditching cumbersome tasks for creative tactics that allowed us to test the market carefully and hand carry the deal to senior executives on both sides of the table. We saved months in the process, bringing the asset to market much more swiftly and keeping the experience straightforward and exciting for Silverfish founders and management.

Simon Woodcock Partner of LAVA Advisory Partners

From LAVA’s shortlist, innovative investment firm Connection Capital emerged as a frontrunner, impressing Silverfish with their quick understanding of the sector, ability to alleviate succession planning concerns, creation of huge career opportunities for second-tier management and early leveraging of professional networks.

To drive deal completion, LAVA took on a central role in managing due diligence and final negotiation processes, facilitating an exceptional deal that was delivered faster than all parties had anticipated. 

LAVA will continue to work with Silverfish by joining Connection Capital as shareholders in the business and offering their support in the long term delivery of the partnership. Investment in Silverfish marks LAVA’s third deal within the hobbyist retail sector; a space LAVA is actively targeting to demonstrate their confidence in the niche and their expertise in its abundant growth and consolidation opportunities.

From the moment we met LAVA, the team always demonstrated an incredible understanding of our company and vision. We could not be happier with the process or the outcome, both of which exceeded our expectations. We are also delighted that LAVA has chosen to acquire an equity stake in Silverfish as well. It shows their genuine belief in the future success of the business.

Darren Mabbott Founder and CEO of Silverfish