Marktlink clients Rob and Josien Ansen were looking for a new owner of their family business ‘Groepen.nl’, to aid them in this search they enlisted the transaction advisory services of our Den Bosch office. The deal closed in 2019. During the transaction, the deal team used the digital Dealsuite-platform to search for prospective buyers. Rob and Josien Ansen sat down with Floyd Plettenberg, the owner of Dealsuite, to discuss their experience. Read the article below.
Like many other successful companies, CVG (Centrum voor Groepsaccommodaties) was started in an attic. But its Dutch founders, Rob Ansen and his wife Josien, are not typical entrepreneurs. When they founded the company more than 27 years ago, they were both working as nurses. In that capacity, they regularly organised overnight trips for care home patients. When they noticed that it was very difficult to book accommodations for large groups, it prompted them to start their own booking agency for group accommodations.
From a sideline, the business quickly evolved into a professional organisation. With its booking site groepen.nl, CVG is now a market leader in the renting of group accommodations in the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany and France, with over 850-holiday homes for both small and large groups. In 2019, CVG chalked up a total revenue of 10 to 15 million euro.
In 2018, the founding couple decided that it was time to sell. ‘In a sense, we were victims of our own success’, says Rob Ansen. ‘As CVG was growing, it entered a new phase, which meant further internationalisation and professionalisation of the management. For my wife and I, running a business was always an adventure. A lot of our decisions were made on instinct. We felt that for this new phase, a different type of management was needed.’
M&A consultant Sven Peeters from advisory firm Marktlink assisted Rob and Josien in their search for a buyer. Besides getting a good price, it was important for the Ansens that the business identity and company culture would be safeguarded. ‘Even though the company had grown exponentially, we always retained the culture of a mom-and-pop business’, says Rob. ‘We were quite close to our 25 employees, some of whom had been with us for twenty years. For this reason, we were wary of an acquisition by a much larger competitor that would likely close our headquarters and assimilate our team into their own organisation.’
Some of the bigger booking platforms showed interest in CVG, tells Peeters, but Rob and Josien made it clear that they preferred to sell to a management buy-in (MBI) candidate with a background in the leisure industry. Peeters decided to place the proposition of CVG on the Dealsuite platform. This helped him ‘cast a wider net’, he explains. It resulted in several serious bids, most of them from parties that were not previously known to Peeters or the Ansens.
One of them was Eugene Westerink, an experienced entrepreneur who had previously run booking platforms. With the backing of Cortese Capital, an investment firm that specialises in healthcare real estate, Westerink was able to put a solid bid on the table. It turned out to be a great match, says Peeters: ‘Westerink brings the exact kind of technical know-how that is needed to take CVG to the next level. Cortese Capital knows real estate and has the financial means that are needed for international expansion.’
Altogether, the search for an acquisition candidate and the take-over process itself took more than a year. It was time and energy-consuming, admits Rob Ansen, but looking back he is happy with the way things went and confident that his company is in expert hands. After the final signatures were put to paper, the Ansens wanted to take a year off to decide on their future plans. But within three weeks, they acquired six acres of woodland where they started building a new, small scale group accommodation. ‘I’m just not the kind of guy to sit back and do nothing’, Ansen says with a laugh. Exactly ten months after the sale of CVG, ‘Estate Ruysbos’ welcomed its first visitors.
Part of the dedicated deal team that helped the pair find a new owner for their business were: Jan Dijkmans, Sven Peeters and specialised M&A lawyer Christine Huisman. This article originally appeared on Dealsuite. You can find it here.