Tag Archives: Vacant Property Protection

NorthEdge Capital backs Orbis Protect’s bolt-on acquisition of Optosafe

Private equity-backed property, site and people protection specialist Orbis Protect has made its first acquisition following a strong period of growth despite the UK-wide lockdown. The business has bought Glasgow-based Optosafe, the 360-degree CCTV tower provider with which it has partnered for the last three years.

Orbis Protect employs more than 400 staff across 19 UK depots, working with clients across the private and public sectors. Its services include vacant property management and securing such properties so that they are ready for re-occupation, as well as site security for commercial offices, construction and other vulnerable sites. The business also offers a lone worker monitoring solution, supporting 35,000 workers annually with personalised alarm services.

The deal follows NorthEdge’s initial backing in 2018 and two years of strong organic growth for Orbis Protect, which has achieved consistent year-on-year organic EBITDA growth in excess of 20% since 2016. Earlier this year, the business ranked eighth in the Sunday Times’ Profit Track and, following this acquisition, is expecting to achieve in excess of £8 million EBITDA in the next financial year.

During lockdown, Orbis Protect has seen rapid grown of its decontamination services. In March, it had six team members trained to deliver specialist cleaning services, which include fogging technology to remove traces of COVID-19, with a further 60 being trained throughout lockdown to meet customer demand.

CCTVTower

Supporting the client base

Guy Other, CEO at Orbis Protect, said: “During lockdown we have been able to adapt quickly to support our clients. This approach to spotting new opportunities for our business has been key to us continuing to report strong organic growth. NorthEdge has been supportive of our ambitions since backing the business, and its backing in terms of our first acquisition has been invaluable.”

Other added: “Over the last few years we have managed to develop a strong partnership with Optosafe on a range of client projects. The specialist insight which the team can provide makes this deal a key part of our ongoing strategy and will help us to further accelerate our growth.”

Optosafe CTO John Robertson has now joined Orbis as managing director of the Optosafe division and will continue to focus on delivering customer solutions, while at the same time driving new product development opportunities.

Robertson told Security Matters: “We know our markets well and are aware of the high demand for Optosafe’s services. It makes monitoring and security for areas like construction, infrastructure and the utilities much safer and more reliable than traditional security systems, which is key for clients who own and operate such assets. Working with Orbis Protect will allow us to accelerate our ongoing R&D work in order to develop new services for our customers.”

Details of the deal

The acquisition was funded in part thanks to financing provided by Clydesdale Yorkshire Bank. Orbis was supported on the acquisition by Deloitte (corporate finance), Browne Jacobson (legal), BDO (financial due diligence), Fairgrove Partners (commercial due diligence) and Better Basics (operational due diligence).

Kevin O’Loughlin, investment director at NorthEdge Capital, explained: “Orbis Protect has performed exceptionally well in the harshest of trading environments presented by COVID-19. The acquisition of Optosafe provides Orbis Protect with additional penetration into the high-growth CCTV towers market and underpins the exciting growth strategy which management has in place for the business.”

Ian Mansell, senior director at Clydesdale Yorkshire Bank, added: “We are delighted to have worked with the team at Orbis Protect and alongside NorthEdge Capital to deliver what is a highly strategic acquisition. To have completed this deal against such a challenging backdrop is testament to the resilient and highly sustainable performance seen across the core business, which should be further enhanced through this acquisition. We look forward to continuing to support Orbis Protect on delivering its ambitious plans for future growth.”

Leave a comment

Filed under Security Matters

Fly-tipping costing UK’s security industry “thousands of pounds” in clean-up and insurance claims

According to the British Security Industry Association (BSIA), the illegal dumping of waste by criminal gangs is costing the UK’s security industry thousands of pounds in clean-up costs and insurance claims.

The costs, which might be borne by the landlords of fly-tipping ‘hotspots’ if they’re not covered by insurance, can routinely reach hundreds of thousands of pounds. Indeed, claims have been known to regularly exceed this figure.

Companies who fail to adequately protect their assets, or have been victims of fly-tipping in the past, could find their insurance cost rising. Some of these costs are met by taxpayers. According to the Local Government Association, the cost to taxpayers of clearing up fly-tipping rose to £57 million in the past year. That’s up 13% on the previous 12 months.

Restrictions on the tipping of waste and the inevitable dumping to avoid paying for waste processing are key factors underpinning this unlawful behaviour. In recent times, a far larger and more costly crime is occurring on an almost daily basis. This involves the unlawful occupation of land followed by large-scale collection and disposal of waste. There have also been many cases of industrial units rented on short leases which have then been filled with illegal waste and left for the landlord to clear up.

BSIAFlyTipping

The recent surge in fly-tipping is put down to an influx of organised gangs offering cheap disposal services to businesses and then simply fly-tipping the waste to avoid the payment of landfill tax which is currently set at £88.95 per tonne*. More sophisticated fly-tippers have also been setting up dummy companies advertising cheap skip rentals. They take out short term leases on warehouses then fill them from floor to ceiling with waste before moving on ahead of the landlord realising that rent hasn’t been paid.

Focus on serious crime and terrorism

Tony Cockcroft, chair of the Security Guarding Section at the BSIA, said: “This activity is being conducted on an enormous scale and involves the tipping of hundreds of tonnes of waste. The waste is collected from building sites and garden and house clearances. It’s a criminal activity netting large amounts of money for those involved in the process.”

Cockroft continued: “In most cases of land tipping, the perpetrators are evicted from the site only to move on to another close by and repeat the same activity again and again. The police and other agencies seldom make arrests, prosecute individuals or confiscate vehicles largely due to their already overstretched resources having to be focused on serious crime and terrorist threats.”

Gideon Reichental, chair of the Vacant Property Protection Section at the BSIA, told Risk Xtra: “Fly-tipping isn’t just an unnecessarily expensive eyesore. It can also be dangerous. Tipped rubbish has been known to include specialist and clinical waste which may be hazardous. Mixed waste can spontaneously combust. This harms the environment through airborne pollution and contaminated fire-water run-off, which is why it has never been more important to tackle the problem head on.”

Reichental added: “The BSIA’s Vacant Property Protection Section has had a keen interest in this problem as it affects many of our clients in the public and private sectors on a day-to-day basis. They’re working closely with the Association’s lobbying team to see what additional Government support or legislation might be provided in order to help address this issue.”

Protecting large areas of land

Protecting large areas of land can prove difficult, but there are a number of fairly simple and inexpensive measures that should be considered as it’s far better, and ultimately cheaper, to deter a person from entering land rather than having to subsequently evict them and restore the site.

As a minimum, the BSIA recommends the installation of strong metal gates with toughened steel padlocks and anti-lift hinges. If the site is vacant, block all vulnerable access points with concrete barriers. Secure the perimeter with strong fencing, posts, earth mounds or trenches and frequently check the site and the perimeter.

The BSIA also advises landlords of industrial units to put in place robust procedures to identify if the persons looking to rent a property are fit and proper to do so.

It’s also worth contacting the police on 101 if there’s a suspicion that land is being illegally occupied, though police officers harbour only restricted powers to deal with people who breach civil law by trespassing. In certain circumstances, a direction to leave may be made and, in the event of non-compliance, arrests may follow.

However, the powers to remove trespassers are discretionary and will not be used by the police unless considered absolutely necessary. If trespassers don’t leave a site when requested to do so then landowners should go through the normal channels of civil recovery as quickly as possible to mitigate the potential damage and resulting costs.

*All figures quoted in this release have been provided by Dougie Barnett, head of mid-market and customer risk management at AXA Insurance

Leave a comment

Filed under Risk Xtra