Sullivan Street Partners to Acquire UK ISS Landscape Operations

London-based Sullivan Street Partners exchanged contracts to buy ISS Facility Services Landscaping, a division of ISS Facility Services, on Tuesday. Completion is set for 30 April.

ISS Facility Services Landscaping employs 1,500 staff, around 500 seasonal staff on contracts across the UK. It delivers grounds maintenance, landscape construction, tree surgery, winter gritting and snow clearance, interior plants, floristRy and Christmas trees.

Clients include the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead, Wokingham Borough Council and Arun District Council.

The new firm will be called Tivoli. ISS Facility Services Landscaping managing director Phil Jones will also move over to head-up Tivoli, along with 1,100 staff. Senior management will remain the same.

Sullivan Street Partners is run by Layton Tamberlin and Richard Sanders. Its website emphasises its desire to improve businesses, speaking about unlimited ambition, managing companies with “enormous potential for growth” and the importance of “becoming a good business, with strong ethics, dedicated employees, good controls and processes and high quality, enthusiastic management”.

It says: “When we look for a business to become part of our group, we are not looking for a unique business model or market-killing application. We are, however, conviction-led, and often on investment take a view that others who buy companies will not be prepared to, looking past the detailed diligence to the fundamentals they mask. Often we find the best of these companies unwanted by owners, ignored by a series of governance models.”

Tamberlin said: “We have been highly attracted to the grounds maintenance market for some time and the business within ISS provides a fantastic base from which to grow. We are looking forward to meeting the transferring staff and working with them to make Tivoli a market leading independent grounds maintenance business in the UK.”

The transaction remains subject to satisfaction of certain conditions customary in a transaction of this nature, including anti-trust approval.

ISS has owned the landscaping business since it bought Waterers Landscapes from Peter Fane in 2003, rebranding it ISS Waterers and then ISS Facility Services Landscaping. Fane stayed with the company in a senior role until 2007 before founding Nurture Landscapes in 2008, which has since grown to a £65m-turnover company with more than 1,000 staff. Nurture nearly doubled its turnover this month with the acquisition of 99-year-old Gavin Jones.

Jones thanked ISS for its support and said it had built ISS landscaping into a strong grounds maintenance business.

“Together with Sullivan Street, I look forward to the next phase of development where we will together make Tivoli the pre-eminent environment for talented staff to build a grounds maintenance focused career and for clients to continue to experience the very best service levels in the market.”

ISS Facility Services’ parent company ISS, which is headquartered in Demark and has 488,946 employees working for around 800 clients worldwide, reported a £79.9billion turnover in its Q4 and full-year results yesterday (22 February).

It also sold its North American landscaping business in 2017, which it described as “non-core”.