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Interiors business marks successful year following management buyout

Ben Johnson Management Buyout | Corporate Law

Twelve months after the senior team at specialist commercial interior design business, Ben Johnson, completed a management buyout, the company has gone from strength to strength, expanding into new sectors, as well as opening a new London office.

In December 2022, Emma Dodsley, Lee Fleming and Matthew Day led the buyout of Ben Johnson following the retirement of managing director, Adrian Rumble. They were advised on the deal by Susan Clark, partner in LCF Law’s corporate team.

Following the management buyout, Ben Johnson, which is headquartered in York with another office in Newcastle, has won a string of prestigious contracts both locally and nationally. This has resulted in the company opening a third office in Fitzrovia, close to both Regent’s Park and the landmark BT Tower.

Over the past 12 months, Ben Johnson has also diversified the sectors it works in, with major contract wins seeing the company completing fit outs spanning more than 40,000 sq ft on behalf of financial and professional services clients, as well as a further 40,000 sq ft for gaming and technology businesses. The company has also completed projects for engineering businesses, mixed use schemes and fit outs in medical and laboratory environments that cover approximately 30,000 sq ft in each sector.

Another high-profile recently completed project includes a 25,000 sq ft fit out of office and laboratory space within London’s iconic Battersea Power Station development.

Finance director, Lee Fleming, who has worked at Ben Johnson since 2005, explained: “The MBO followed two years of careful succession planning with Adrian’s support to ensure everyone had clearly defined roles and that each stage of the process was prepared. It’s paid dividends and although businesses often lose people during takeovers, we haven’t lost a single employee from our team, which is ultimately the most important part of our business.

“Crucially, Susan also played a vital role in simplifying the whole takeover process and explaining onerous points in plain English, as well as working with us to plan dates and get the details right, to ensure everything ran smoothly.

“Strengthening our presence on both the M1 and A1 corridors, spanning the north of south of England, by opening a London office, also stands us in good stead as we grow our national footprint.”

Director Emma Dodsley, who oversees sales and marketing, added: “I joined Ben Johnson 13 years ago with the promise of being part of a future MBO team. Since we took over it’s been a privilege to build on what Adrian had created.

“Office transformations will always be a big part of our work and especially now with businesses recognising that modern offices must provide a sense of community and not just desks, in order to encourage employees to enjoy being back in the office. As a result, we’ve completed projects for the likes of Reward Finance and Equifax this year.

“Essentially though, we had ambitions to expand into more sectors, which has been a key focus over the past 12 months. We’re now working with manufacturers that aspire to offer first-class staff breakout areas to aid recruitment and gaming companies that want a genuine wow factor as soon as you walk into their premises, as well as several private hospitals and clinics where patients want to feel indulged. We’re now looking forward to building on this throughout 2024.”

LCF Law’s Susan Clark said: “The success of Ben Johnson’s management buyout is down to very careful succession planning, and the importance of this can never be underestimated. Adrian had a carefully prepared exit strategy which he implemented over a long period of time and selected and appointed the right people to lead the MBO.

“He also recognised the strengths in Emma, Lee and Matthew and mentored them to ensure it would be a smooth transaction and that they would all thrive in their roles. To see the business going from strength to strength and carving out a national reputation is testament to this and it’s exciting to see how Ben Johnson continues to develop over the coming years.”

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