News Article

Acquisition of Cheshire employment group ‘transforms’ AIM-listed group

29 October 2020

Employment consultancy Ellis Whittam has been bought by safety specialists Marlowe in a £59m deal that sees the exit of founder Mark Ellis and investor LDC.

Ellis Whittam provides outsourced employment law, HR and health and safety services. It supports more than 3,300 UK organisations via a fixed-fee subscription model.

The business employs 180 people at its headquarters in Aldford, near Chester, and at sites in Glasgow and London.

Marlowe is an AIM-listed business created five years ago to acquire and grow market-leading service businesses. The £200m-turnover group provides safety and regulatory compliance, including health and safety, occupational health, and fire safety.

The deal is on a cash-free, debt-free basis, and Marlowe has launched a £30m share placing to help fund the deal.

Alex Dacre, chief executive of Marlowe, said the deal “transforms our scale and capabilities” in employment law, HR compliance and health and safety advisory.

He said: “Ellis Whittam is a major step in strengthening our position as the UK leader in regulated safety and compliance services to organisations of all sizes.”

Ellis founded the company in 2004, aged 37, giving up his equity partnership and position as head of employment law at Aaron and Partners to follow his entrepreneurial vision.

The business grew steadily and established a market-leading reputation. In September 2016 LDC took a large minority stake, with its “significant investment” being used to accelerate organic growth.

The group has grown its annual revenues from below £9m to £16.6m in that time. In the year to August, it recorded adjusted EBITDA of £4.4m.

Speaking to, Ellis said: “It’s been a great journey, it’s been a lot of fun actually. We have built a great reputation and business.

“I have been very careful to leave the business in good hands. Gavin Snell is a brilliant CEO and Andy Gunson is a brilliant CFO.

“Marlowe buys good businesses and continues to invest in them. The reason I selected Marlowe was because of the opportunity it presented for the business and my colleagues.”