Pandora Books, the UK’s leading supplier of book collections to schools, has acquired competitor Badger Publishing in a deal financed by Birmingham-based Key Capital Partners.
KCP provided the funds to support the purchase of Badger from EDCO, the Irish educational publishing division of Smurfit Kappa Group. The acquisition was part of Pandora’s growth strategy.
Stevenage-based Badger operates in the same book collections market as Pandora. The company was established in 1989 and incorporates a thriving educational publishing arm. The Badger team, led by general manager and publisher, David Jamieson, will remain with the business following its acquisition.
Owen Trotter, a KCP partner and a non-executive director at Pandora, said: “The acquisition of Badger Publishing will consolidate Pandora’s position in the boxed collections segment of the educational book market. By successfully integrating the two businesses, we will be able to maximise the combined entity’s operational and financial performance, raising its profile in the broader market and increasing critical mass.”
Managing director Martin Green added: “In the eight months since KCP’s original investment, Pandora has experienced tremendous development, while maintaining the excellent standard of customer service that has been fundamental to our ongoing growth and success. The merger with Badger creates a fantastic opportunity to combine our expertise to save busy teachers precious time by offering even better selections of titles and enhanced customer service. With the enhanced market penetration that this acquisition will provide, we look forward to the next stage of our development.”
KCP originally backed the management buy-out of Pandora in April 2008. Pandora was founded by Nick and Mike Ison in King’s Lynn, Norfolk in 1987 and has grown significantly in recent years as its catalogue business has complemented the service provided to schools. The KCP investment was originally put in to accelerate further growth through these channels and a new specialist website.
Trevor Goul-Wheeker, the chairman at Pandora, led the acquisition for the firm. He added: “Pandora has achieved strong year-on-year growth and, compared to the volatile consumer market, the educational book market has remained solid over the last year.
“We have strengthened our management team with the acquisition of Badger and are particularly interested in the growth achieved by the company’s own publishing range.
“The combined business will provide publishers with the ideal vehicle to reach schools with the best literacy and project-related books in the market.”
Keith Ferguson, a partner at PKF (UK) in Ipswich, advised KCP on the deal and performed financial due diligence. He said: “This acquisition demonstrates KCP’s commitment to supporting portfolio companies with continued investment.
The two businesses are an ideal strategic fit and, with a government-funded customer base, are relatively insulated from negative pressure in the wider economy. As such, Pandora is well positioned for continued growth.”
Based in Norfolk, Pandora offers book collections that cover a wide range of reading abilities and meet all of the criteria of both the National Curriculum and the Primary Strategy for Literacy.
Pandora recently added to its catalogue and sales operations with the launch of a specialist website, which offers teachers and school librarians a one-stop collections bookshop.