North East gift card specialist acquired in deal potentially worth £3.5m

North East gift card provider, MBL Solutions, has been acquired as part of ambitious plans for growth in the UK gift card market.

The business, based in Seaham, has been sold to Liverpool-based Appreciate Group by its former parent, Redu Group, for an initial sum of £1.65m, with a further £1.8m deferred for 12 months dependent on certain criteria.

Appreciate Group is home of Love2shop, Park Christmas Savings, and Appreciate Business Services. It plans to leverage MBL’s market-leading digital platform to advance its technology and enhance products and services within the gift card sector.

MBL employs seven people and specialises in gift card processing and management services for retailers. It also offers a digital gift card mall for B2C and B2B customers to purchase gift cards directly from a catalogue of over 160 high-street retailers.

Nick Johnson, Rhiannon Nightingale, and Tom Cosby of Ryecroft Glenton Corporate Finance provided CF advice to the shareholders, whilst Paul Wigham and Nick Gray of Weightmans LLP provided legal advice.

Ian O’Doherty, Chief Executive Officer, at Appreciate Group commented:

“The acquisition of MBL rapidly accelerates the Group’s technology plans and immediately enhances our capabilities, particularly in our Corporate business, where we are already enjoying increased customer demand for our products. The MBL platform will help us improve the competitiveness of our offerings and bring forward opportunities that can deliver growth.”

Commenting on the rationale for the transaction, Sam Morton, Chief Commercial Officer, at Redu Group commented:

“We acquired MBL Solutions during the pandemic when we realised the technology and the team, whilst already well established in the industry, had huge potential for growth. During the last 18 months the team has managed to achieve great things, with significant clients coming on board and great progress with the solutions we offer to the market. Appreciate Group is the perfect home for MBL, and so when they approached us to acquire, it was an easy decision – together they will no doubt make huge strides.”

Gary Hunter, Chief Executive Officer, at Redu Group added:

“The acquisition of MBL solutions by Appreciate Group will allow the bespoke technology built in house to be used to its full potential and help Appreciate reach its strategic goals faster. They inherit a great team and a enviable client list as part of the transaction.”

Rhiannon Nightingale, Corporate Finance Director, at Ryecroft Glenton Corporate Finance, said:

“This exciting transaction will generate positive collaboration between two high quality, technology-led businesses.  Appreciate’s resources and market presence will add significant value to the MBL market offering; and MBL’s suite of technology will enhance Appreciate’s portfolio, creating a combined capability for growth.  It is another great example of a high quality North East based technology business attracting investment from a significant national company.”

Appreciate Group was provided with legal advice by Addleshaws, financial and tax by Mazars and technology by KPMG.

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