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Business & Economy

National utilities switching provider makes smart investment in North East

One of the UK’s fastest-growing business energy consultancies has been acquired by a market-leading counterpart.

Smart Utility Management (Smart) was founded in the North East in 2014, and has gone on to become one of the most dynamic new players in the sector, providing energy utility management and switching services to SMEs across the UK, helping them to procure energy more cheaply.

Smart, based in Chester-le-Street, has now been acquired by Make It Cheaper (MIC), a UK SME utilities switching provider, in a deal that has been hailed as enabling both businesses to reach more customers, offer more products and services and boost their sales capabilities.

The founders of Smart will remain with the business post-acquisition to lead its ongoing development and oversee its integration into the MIC group.  

The deal marks the third acquisition in two years for fast-growing MIC, which is already recording organic year-on-year growth of 50 per cent, and has seen significant progress since ECI Partners invested in the business in 2017.

Leathers Corporate Finance acted for Smart in planning and delivering the deal, with partner Phil Williams – formerly finance director of Smart – completing the highly significant deal less than six months after co-founding the region’s newest corporate finance firm.

North East commercial law firm Muckle LLP advised the selling shareholders on the deal. The legal team was led by partner Anthony Evans and included Stuart Grieve, Harry Hobson, Beth Thompson and Zoe Ditch.

Peter Kirkham, CEO and co-founder, said: “Joining forces with MIC means we can now serve our clients even better, offering them new products and services and helping them to save even more money.

“Our field-based sales team will help MIC to reach segments of the market it currently doesn’t have access to. This is a win-win business combination and we couldn’t have done it without our former colleague Phil Williams and the tremendous support from Leathers Corporate Finance and Muckle.”

Phil Williams said: “This is a great deal for the staff and customers of Smart and for the region. I am proud to have been part of an exciting and successful journey with the business and delighted that we have achieved such an exceptional outcome for our clients so soon after establishing Leathers Corporate Finance.”

Anthony Evans, corporate partner at Muckle, said: “It was great to work with Peter and his fellow shareholders. They’ve done a fantastic job of building Smart and, through the deal, have created an exciting opportunity to further grow the business as part of MIC. It was also great to work with Phil from Leathers, who played a key role in making this deal happen.”

Paul Galligan, chief executive of MIC, said: “Switching is widely recognised as an effective way for businesses to lower their bills and find better service providers. Our latest acquisition cements our position as the leading, go-to solutions provider for SMEs that want to find the best energy, broadband and insurance deals.”

ECI partner Richard Chapman added: “We are delighted to support MIC as it builds out its platform to become the UK’s leading switching champion for SMEs. MIC is already generating strong organic growth of 50 per cent year on year and this acquisition will help the company to reach more customers and offer them more products and services.

“We are keen to provide further support to MIC as it continues to build out its business and deliver on its strategic goals, both organically and through further acquisitions.”