ECI completed an investment in Fourth on Friday 18 March 2011. ECI is backing the management team led by Chief Executive, Ben Hood and introduced Neville Davis as Chairman (former CEO of Compel and current Chairman of ECI’s investee company Ascribe).
Fourth is a market leading SaaS provider of back office systems to the hospitality sector, headquartered in Covent Garden, London it employs 167 delivering material benefits to over 20,000 users. Its software is used by the hospitality sector in 20 countries including the UK, USA, Russia, Germany and South Africa managing over 150,000 employee records and processing more than 3 million invoices.
The funding from ECI will be used to increase market penetration and finance new product development as well as fund new bolt-on acquisitions. Fourth was founded in 1999 by restaurant entrepreneurs Derek and Edwina Lilley, who remain investors in the business. Since then, it has grown rapidly to become the UK market leader with a 12% share of the market, and has appeared in the Sunday Times Tech Track of fastest-growing companies for the last two years. The company has a strong track record in providing the market-leading software for labour, stock and purchasing functions, generating material cost synergies for its customers. Customers include Pizza Express, Fuller’s, Marston’s, Wagamama, Café Rouge, Hilton, Jamie’s Italian, Carluccios, the Gordon Ramsay Group and ASK. Revenues are largely recurring in nature, with high levels of customer retention.
ECI had been tracking Fourth as a potential investment due to its excellent management team led by Ben Hood and market leading position in a growing market. When Derek and Edwina Lilley appointed KPMG to explore options ECI pre-empted the process, offered a highly deliverable deal that met the needs of all parties and delivered this in an accelerated timetable.
ECI’s Investment was led by David Ewing who commented: