What role did Ardian Co‑Investment play in helping to win this transaction and how has Ardian supported LindFast’s development since then?
Faruk Amin: We have a longstanding relationship with the deal sponsor, Nautic Partners, through Ardian Secondaries & Primaries. We knew Nautic had expertise in the fasteners industry, so when they told us about LindFast, we were immediately very interested. They wanted a co‑investor who could complete due diligence quickly and commit to a sizeable ticket at signing. We were happy to do that and then provide active support by joining the board.
Bill Niketas: When Nautic started looking at this deal in January 2019, I was an operating adviser. Ardian’s support was essential for us in winning this transaction. We knew there would be competition to buy LindFast and having a co‑investor that comes on board quickly allowed us to get ahead of the process and pre‑empt it.
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How did you address the challenges LindFast faced as activity collapsed during the early stages of the pandemic in 2020?
BN: Obviously, demand was hit very severely – at one point in Q2 2020 our revenues were down more than 40%. We decided to focus all our efforts on outperforming the competition, gaining market share, controlling our costs, improving gross margins and making sure that our service levels with inventory and availability were as strong as possible. So, we continued to invest in our inventory and facilities, and we launched several projects to win market share with key customers and find innovative ways to create value for them. Thanks to all those efforts, we finished 2020 with revenues down less than 10% and our earnings flat over 2019.
FA: The impact of Covid‑19 was very significant, but Bill and his team used this as an opportunity to streamline the business and position LindFast well for the recovery. We supported Nautic and Bill wholeheartedly at board level because we felt the strategy was absolutely the right one and we are very pleased that the execution has been outstanding.
What position is the company in now, as business returns to normal and revenues rebound?
BN: We finished 2021 well ahead of plan, and even ahead of our original plans for 2022 and 2023, with the pace of growth still accelerating. That is down to the decisions we took in 2020. We import 80% of our stock from Asia and we were very aggressive at the end of 2020 and in early 2021 in getting product on the water. This put us in a strong position compared with our smaller competitors when shipping delays started to have an impact and I think that is what has led to some of the acceleration in our business more recently.
FA: Whenever there is a crisis, it also creates opportunities, but you have to seize them. Bill and the Nautic team are extremely analytical and thoughtful, and the way they executed on their strategy during the pandemic was excellent. If they hadnʼt done it right, we could be in a very different situation.