OCS goes for growth with acquisition of Legion Group

Leading support services provider OCS Group UK Limited has acquired the business and assets of Legion Group plc and Legion FM Limited from John Whitfield, Paul Williams and Paul Clark of MCR in their capacity of administrators of the companies. The deal adds around 500 new clients to OCS’s existing security business. It also secures a future for 2,800 Legion staff and service continuity for customers following the company being placed into administration earlier this week.

The agreement sees OCS take control of all Legion assets including contract turnover in excess of £50 million covering manned guarding and car parking activities throughout the UK. OCS Group UK MD Martin Gammon said, “This acquisition forms a key part of our growth strategy and further develops the company’s capacity to provide Total Facilities Management services.  It is a clear demonstration of our determination to emerge from the current period of economic uncertainty in a strong position as a leading player in the FM market. “As the UK’s longest established provider of security services, Legion Group is a very strong brand and enhances our offering within the security sector.  The Legion Group has a professional and dedicated workforce with a highly respected reputation. We believe its history and values are a perfect fit with the OCS company ethos,” concluded Gammon.

OCS is a family owned integrated property support services giant, with more than 63,000 employees offering over 100 services from operating bases in five continents. Steeped in tradition and history OCS was founded in 1900 and was recently ranked 75 in The Sunday Times Deloitte Top Track 100 (2010). OCS provides a comprehensive range of services including catering, cleaning, hygiene services, security, horticulture, pest control and waste management. In security terms OCS is the sixth largest UK security services provider.

The website of the Legion Group sets out the heritage of the much respected organisation: “Legion Group plc has a long and distinguished history dating back to 1921, when the British Legion was formed to help the many disabled and jobless veterans from World War I. Local British Legion branches offering parking services to small car parks began to take root around the country, and in 1928 these local charities were brought together and incorporated into The Royal British Legion Attendants Company Trust (RBLACT). Over the years, the organisation expanded its operations to include the provision of security and CCTV monitoring services, and Legion became established as one of the UK’s most respected providers of parking and security management services to the public and private sectors.  To keep pace with developments in the marketplace and provide customers with the highest levels of service, Legion embraced government legislation and new technology, and through its recently formed subsidiary company, Legion Technologies Ltd, now offers world-class, fully integrated solutions utilising today’s most advanced technology and supported by its purpose-built, state-of-the-art National Communications and Emergency Response Centre. In March 2009 Legion Group plc was acquired by SectorGuard Plc, a leading provider of security and fire protection services. The two companies merged their operations to operate under the name Legion Group plc, retaining Legion’s heritage, company ethos and the iconic and highly respected Legion brand. The merger has resulted in a strengthened organisation which employs over 2,700 staff nationwide, providing security and parking services to an impressive client portfolio.”

The acquisition follows a turbulent month for the Legion Group plc. On the 29th July 2010 the Board of Legion Group requested that trading in the Company’s shares be suspended. At the time of suspension it issued the following statement “Despite a healthy order book and stable trading performance, the Company has experienced significant working capital constraints. These were ameliorated to some extent by the invoice discounting facility provided by Lloyds TSB announced on 14 July 2010. The Group also stated that it had been in discussions with HM Revenue & Customs (“HMRC”) regarding outstanding PAYE and VAT liabilities. The Company remains in discussion with HMRC although it would have insufficient funds to meet these liabilities should they need to be settled in full in the short-term. Accordingly, the Board is now exploring possible options for the Group. The Board has received expressions of interest for the business and assets of the Group. They are in advanced discussions which they hope to conclude as soon as possible as they believe that this is the most likely option to retain value for shareholders and creditors. Should a sale of the business and assets be unsuccessful, placing the Company into administration may be a possible outcome. The Board remain committed to seeking a viable solution and will make further announcements as appropriate.”

On the 14th July 2010 the Legion Group plc issued the following trading statement “Despite a continued period of economic uncertainty, the man-guarding division has produced a stable performance without material change to expected revenues.  The Group has seen a noticeable increase in interest in its car parking division, following a change of operational management. Overall, the Group has traded in line with the Board’s expectations. The Directors believe that the order book is healthy and indicates an assured outlook. Legion Group is also pleased to announce that Lloyds TSB has agreed to provide the Group with a new £7.5m invoice discounting facility which will significantly improve the working capital position of the Group.  This additional facility has allowed the Group to repay £1.5m of liabilities owed to HM Revenue & Customs (“HMRC”).  Legion Group is currently in negotiation with HMRC for settling outstanding PAYE and VAT liabilities which were assumed at the time of the acquisition of the Legion business. The Group continues to have a strong order book with both public and private sector clients.  As many of the Group’s public sector contracts are designated as critical to the national infrastructure, the Directors believe that it will not be acutely vulnerable to future public sector cuts.”

The board of directors of Legion Group plc consisted of Stephen Thomas, Non-Executive Chairman, General Sir Mike Jackson GCB CBE DSO DL, Non-Executive Director and Mark Higgins, Chief Executive Officer..

OCS Website
Legion Group Plc Website