Industrial Services: Spotlight on Fire
Armstrong has recently supported deals on some very different businesses providing fire safety services, from remediation consultancy to sprinkler systems. There are numerous different types of fire business and many factors that need to be considered by investors. However, overall, the sector remains resilient and continues to grow as regulations, building standards and public scrutiny require companies to meet higher standards of fire safety.
What is driving the fire safety market?
- Companies need to protect their people and their assets, regardless of market conditions and it is not something that can be turned on and off.
- Two distinct sets of customers – residential and commercial/industrial – but within these sets, there are numerous different verticals and building types, with different requirements and corresponding specialists in each.
- Changing regulatory environment, with increasingly stringent regulations off the back of Grenfell.
- Opportunities across consultancy, installation and maintenance services, with some elements of recurring revenue possible.
- Fragmented market offering opportunities for buy-and-build to drive service, vertical or geographic expansion.
- Potential to think more holistically about fire safety within the broader BIM, security, facilities management and TICC sectors, with their various drivers coming into play such as advances in technology and shifts to preventative maintenance.
Fire investment considerations
Beyond the fundamentals, you should consider the following areas when assessing a fire target.
There are lots of ways of coming at fire, you need to understand what’s driving this specific market.
- What is driving end market growth? Greenfield opportunities, increasing compliance, or changes in type of provision?
- How attractive is the specific product or service segment the target is operating in?
- Is the opportunity greater in installation or maintenance?
- How price sensitive is the target’s end market?
- What opportunities are there to grow into adjacent markets?
Reputation for quality and service are key. Differentiation through customer service and innovation is becoming increasingly important.
- How does the business differentiate?
- Does it have anything unique, beyond competitive pricing and customer service?
- Is specialism an advantage in this market, or would bundling of services to create a ‘one stop shop’ be more appealing to customers?
In a market with low churn rates, growth can be a challenge.
- What plans has the business to grow organically? Is it based on market growth, or market share gain?
- Are there opportunities to take market share from larger players who have fire as part of a wider offering?
- How will insurance and regulatory requirements drive demand in target sectors?
- Can the target provide evidence of its ability to win new customers, or increasing demand from existing customers?
Buy and build strategy :
- Is the business suitable as a platform?
- What complementary services could be added to the business, or how could it extend its geographical footprint?
- Are the buy and build targets attractive to bolt onto a larger platform, and can management/PE focus improve them?
Armstrong has helped several investors answer these and similar questions on recent fire deals. Speak to Matt and the team if you’d like to discuss opportunities in the fire sector.
Matt McNally, DirectorEmail Matt