Marlowe chair quits after firm finalises £430m sale

  • Quinn will be replaced on an interim basis by Tory donor Lord Ashcroft 
  • He joined Marlowe after a 13-year stint as chief financial officer of Berendsen 

Lord Ashcroft has been named interim chair of business services specialist Marlowe after his predecessor stood down following the sale of a large share of its operations.

Kevin Quinn had been executive chair of Marlowe since 2019, which he joined after a 13-year stint as chief financial officer of textile service provider Berendsen.

In February, the company agreed to sell certain governance, risk, and compliance software and services operations for £430million to private equity investor Inflexion.

Entrepreneur: Marlowe was co-founded by Conservative Party donor Lord Ashcroft 

These assets provided around a fifth of the group’s total revenues and 40 per cent of adjusted earnings before nasties.

Having now been divested, Marlowe plans to use proceeds from the sale on paying down debts, a £150million special dividend, and a stock buyback worth up to £75million.

Quinn will be replaced on an interim basis by the firm’s co-founder Lord Ashcroft, who bought £19million of shares in Marlowe last month.

Ashcroft’s purchase coincided with the sale of a large stake by Marlowe’s other co-founder and recently-departed chief executive, Alex Dacre, son of former Daily Mail editor Paul Dacre.

The philanthropist and Conservative Party donor told investors: ‘The board extends its sincere thanks to Kevin for his dedicated service and commitment as Marlowe’s chairman.

‘Kevin has made a significant contribution to the development of Marlowe throughout his six-year tenure, and we wish him all the best for the future.’

Founded as a cash shell in 2015, Marlowe has expanded through dozens of takeovers and healthy organic growth into a business with over £500million in annual turnover.

The London-listed company specialises in regulatory compliance, providing services including health and safety, employment law, occupational health, fire safety, and human resources.

Its clients have ranged from Tesco to JD Wetherspoon, Wembley and Twickenham stadiums, the Houses of Parliament, and Haven Holidays owner Bourne Leisure.

In its latest trading update, the firm said revenue from continuing operations for the current financial year was expected to be £292million for its testing, inspection, and certificate business and £111million for its occupational health arm. 

Analysts at Investec said: ‘We believe now represents a unique opportunity for investors, with the Marlowe Group returning to its simplified, and historically highly successful, TIC buy and build growth story.’

Marlowe shares were 4.2 per cent higher at 581.25p on Monday morning and have grown by approximately 42 per cent since the year started.