Waterland buys Westmeath firm Writech to grow Irish equity holdings

DUTCH-based private equity firm Waterland has expanded its footprint in Ireland by taking a majority stake in a Mullingar-based provider of fire protection systems to blue chip companies.

aterland Private Equity Ireland is taking control of Writech, a 40 year old family business that is a major employer in the town, via a significant equity investment.

The deal will help Writech accelerate its UK and European expansion plans, especially in the countries where Waterland is already active, and fund the development of a new innovation and design centre, which will employ 30 new staff.

The acquisition is Waterland’s sixth in Ireland since its first foray into the country five years ago.

Waterland’s first platform investment in Ireland was Silver Stream, one of the largest independent providers of elderly care facilities in the country with 340 beds. That investment took place in 2019.

It’s two other current portfolio companies are Textile Recycling International, Ireland’s largest textile recycling company, and Cawood Scientific, which provides analytical testing and sampling services in Ireland via its Sci-Tech subsidiary.

Waterland previously owned and sold digital agency Webfactory and Thermal Insulation Distributors.

Founded in 1981 by Mary and Thomas Wright, Writech provides fire protection system design, manufacture, installation, commissioning and servicing across a range of sectors including data centres, life sciences, logistics, retail, office, and food and beverage.

Sons Ted and Alan took over the business in 2008 and have been trying to increase its European footprint, but had reached the limits of organic growth capacity when they started speaking to Waterland last year.

Headed by Laura Dillon in Ireland, Waterland has €8bn in assets under management across Belgium, the Netherlands, the UK, Germany, France, Denmark, Poland and Switzerland.

The firm uses a ‘buy and build’ strategy in Ireland to take majority stakes in SMEs with turnover between €2.5m and €50m. The company is an active shareholder and steers strategic development, growth and performance in the companies it owns, usually taking board seats to exert influence.

Waterland raised €2.5bn in its eight institutional fund last year and Ms Dillon has a mandate to spend in Ireland, it is understood.

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