Providing capital for growth
International Car Wash Group
After tracking the business for over 5 years, we acquired International Car Wash Group, the world's largest independent conveyor car wash operator, in July 2014.
Founded in Germany in 1965, International Car Wash Group (“ICWG”), until March 2017 known as IMO Car Wash Group, has grown to become the world’s largest independent conveyor car wash operator. It has over 860 sites spanning 14 countries, with 320 sites in Germany, 260 sites in the UK, 61 sites in the US and the remainder spread across Europe and Australia. The company has approximately 250 employees and is headquartered in the UK.
Caring for the environment is high on the agenda for ICWG, and accordingly it meets or surpasses all country specific regulation. By recycling at least 75% of its water, using only chemicals that are biodegradable and removing all harmful deposits from wastewater before disposing of them through environmentally approved contractors, ICWG is the most environmentally friendly way to clean your car.
We began following ICWG in 2008. During the subsequent years we spent a significant amount of time monitoring the business, understanding the wider market and developing our investment thesis.
As a result of our relationship with management, our insight into the business and our experience owning multi-site, consumer-facing businesses, we were able to position ourselves as a credible buyer that could deliver a quick transaction for the vendors. This enabled us to avoid a competitive process and we negotiated the deal on a bilateral basis, completing the acquisition in July 2014.
What we've done
Since our investment, ICWG has launched an expansion strategy into the highly-fragmented US car wash market. The strategy is focusing exclusively on sites with automated conveyors in regions with a high number of washdays, all benefiting from the world’s largest car parc. To date, ICWG has acquired over 60 sites in the US and is looking to expand further in the region. In the US, ICWG operates under Car Wash USA Express and Supersonic brands.
ICWG has also opened over 50 new sites within its existing geographies since our acquisition and has been rolling out a substantial refurbishment programme that is delivering strong returns on capital.
Date of investment: July 2014
Deal type: Private sale