Addison Lee sold to Carlyle Group for £300m

Deal will see founder John Griffin remain as chairman of cab firm

London-based minicab company Addison Lee has been sold by father-and-son team John and Liam Griffin to US fund manager Carlyle Group in a deal reportedly worth £300m.

The purchase will be used to drive expansion of the company outside of London into other parts of the UK and internationally, as well as growing the corporate client base.

The deal will be funded from Carlyle’s €5.4 billion European buy-out fund. Founded in Battersea in 1975 by John Griffin and investor Lenny Foster with one car, Addison Lee has grown to become London’s main competitor to the Hackney carriage, carrying 10 million passengers and a million deliveries a year.

The firm has become known for its pioneering use of a proprietary IT system to manage bookings, allowing it to take over 20,000 reservations a day and become the largest minicab firm in Western Europe with a fleet of over 4,500 cars.

In an interview with Growing Business  John Griffin revealed how its focus on technology set the company apart from its competitors. “About 15 years ago I decided to invest heavily in technology,” he said.

“At that time, minicab businesses all seemed to stop at about 250 cars and we were the same. We couldn’t get past that ceiling because the mechanics of taking the bookings took too long.

“Today we’re massively ahead of the competition because of the technology we’ve put in place. We spend £2m a year on it and none of that has come at the expense of profit. We spend what we spend because we have the cash to do it.”

The deal represents a successful exit for Griffin and his son, which will see John Griffin remain as chairman and Liam Griffin promoted from managing director to CEO.

Both will retain minority stakes in the business. Liam Griffin commented: “From humble beginnings almost 40 years ago, Addison Lee has grown to become a well-known brand, valued for its customer service and innovative technology alike.

We are excited about this investment, which provides the endorsement and backing of one of the world’s largest investment firms and provides a platform for Addison Lee’s continued future growth.”

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