Oxford Fencing Supplies Limited sold to Lawson Holdings Ltd

Paul Whittington, owner of Oxford Fencing Supplies with Wendy Lam, partner at Watersheds

Oxford Fencing Supplies Limited, one of the UK’s largest independent suppliers of timber and fencing products, has been sold in a deal completed by South-West corporate finance specialists Watersheds.

The Abingdon-based firm, which was established in 1986, has been sold to Lawson Holdings Ltd, a family-owned timber and building merchant, based in Hertfordshire.

Lawsons, which has an annual turnover of £156m, has acquired Oxford Fencing Supplies, known for its strong brand in the industry, as part of a strategy to strengthen Lawsons presence in Oxfordshire and expand its capacity as a fencing supplier.

Swindon-based Watersheds first met the owner of Oxford Fencing Supplies, Paul Whittington, back in 2017 after being referred by a local accounting firm.

Paul was considering the sale of his business, but had a price expectation which he wasn’t convinced could be achieved.

He felt the approach proposed by Watersheds, which was for him to build the business up further over the next few years while Watersheds began identifying possible opportunities to sell his firm, was right for him and his company.

By 2021, Oxford Fencing Supplies could demonstrate strong, consistent, and sustainable growth, even through the pandemic, and together Paul and Watersheds decided it was the right time to sell the business.

Within four weeks of going to market, Watersheds brought Paul multiple offers from a range of different buyers, including national and international traders and investment companies. All offers considerably exceeded Paul’s price expectations.

“The offers were all of a decent value and structure, but in the end, I selected Lawsons because I had a good rapport with their team and felt confident they would take the best care of my business and its people, going forward,” said Paul.

“Many of my staff have been with the company for years, and it’s important to me they are looked after. The ethos and culture of Lawsons is very similar to my own, being a family business run by its third generation, so I am very happy Oxford Fencing Supplies will fit in with its new owner.

“Watersheds have been fantastic partners for me, and have worked hard to advise and guide me on how to get my business ready for sale, and introduce me to a high number of potential buyers, all of whom were willing and able to make very strong offers. Because of their experience, judgement and contacts I can rest assured Oxford Fencing Supplies has a very bright future indeed.”

Wendy Lam, a partner with Watersheds, said: “Like many owners, Paul realised the best succession planning tends to start years before a sale takes place, and took our advice to work hard in getting the business into great shape, in order to achieve his expectations.

“It is very common for owners who have built up a company from scratch to be keen to make sure their employees can enjoy a secure future. We understand those employees who have been so loyal have contributed to the business’s success.

“Securing a great deal in terms of finance and structure for our clients and their company going forward is important. We were glad to bring Paul so many strong offers, from such different parties. It has been a pleasure to see Paul achieve all of his goals by selling to Lawsons.”

Legal advice on the sale was provided by Abingdon-based Challenor & Son.