News Article

Debt Collection

Marston expands its presence with acquisition of collections firm

By CreditMan Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Engage Services – the Darwen-based company which specialises in non-court order based field collections – has been acquired by Marston Holdings, the UK’s largest judicial services group, for an undisclosed sum. Dow Schofield Watts advised on the transaction.

Founded in 1999, Engage has an extensive network of field agents operating across England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, and provides field-based collections to a range of utilities, financial services and public sector clients. The company’s management team, Michael Wolfenden and Gary Jones, will remain on the board and continue to run the business.

Marston is the UK’s largest judicial services group, with 2,000 employees and agents processing circa 1.4 million cases per annum. It acts on behalf of taxpayers to recover outstanding criminal fines, legal aid contributions, child support arrears, council tax and parking penalties. It also recovers unpaid Employment Tribunal Awards due to employees and unpaid invoices for small businesses.

Gregg Pendlington and Mark Watts of Dow Schofield Watts’ Corporate Finance team helped Marston to negotiate, structure and manage the deal, while Nicola Merritt of Dow Schofield Watts Transaction Services carried out due diligence. The deal is Marston’s sixth acquisition since the purchase of Helmshore-based Rossendales in 2013.

Gregg Pendlington said: “Engage is an established firm with an excellent client base and focused management team. We are delighted to have supported Marston again with this acquisition and look forward to working with them and the Engage team going forward.”

Marston Chief Executive, Gareth Hughes, commented that: “Engage is strongly positioned in the field services market segment. It has an excellent track record of engaging with customers in an effective, sensitive manner, and has made significant investment in technology. We are delighted that they have joined us.”

Engage is fully authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority which has formally approved the change of control. Engage becomes the third Marston business to have full FCA authorisation in respect of regulated debt collection activity.