Harvard secures investment from ECI Partners

 John McDonnell, managing director, Harvard.
John McDonnell, managing director, Harvard.

Harvard Engineering, world leader in the design and development of control products for the lighting industry, is pleased to announce ECI Partners has invested in a minority shareholding in the company.

The investment will allow Harvard to further build on its strategic growth plans, which includes increasing employee numbers from 300 to 500, enhancing the company’s range of products and building a new state-of-the-art R&D and manufacturing facility.

Established in 1993, by current managing director John McDonnell, Harvard has remained at the forefront of the lighting industry for over twenty years by constantly investing in R&D.  The company’s product range includes LeafNut, the multi-award winning wireless control and monitoring system for street lighting and the award winning CoolLED range of switchable drivers for LED lighting.  More recently the company announced the launch of EyeNut, an innovative indoor lighting control solution that is set to revolutionise the market.

Harvard only moved into its current premises in February 2011, but due to increasing worldwide demand for its products and solutions, it has already outgrown the facility. The company is committed to manufacturing all its products in the UK and has already identified a new site close to its current location.

As part of Harvard’s strategic plans, the company has also made a number of senior appointments including an operations director, a new head of quality and regional international sales managers for Southern, Northern and Central Europe.

Over the course of the last three years Harvard has seen employee numbers and turnover more than double.  It has also opened offices in France, Italy, Germany and USA as part of a five year growth strategy to increase export business from 25% of turnover, at the end of 2011, to 50% by the end of 2015. John McDonnell, managing director at Harvard commented, “The investment is wonderful news for Harvard, as it will allow us to strategically build on our already growing market share and international presence.  Despite the deep recession, demand for our products continues to grow across the globe.”

Mark Keeley, Investment Director at ECI commented, “As a growth focused investor we look for businesses which have strong management teams who have driven growth despite the global recession and in particular have expanded successfully overseas.  Harvard ticked all our boxes.  We are excited about working with John and his team to help the business continue its global expansion.”

David Hardless of Park Place Corporate Finance, who acted as lead advisors on the transaction commented, “John McDonnell has built an exceptional business that is well placed to participate in the LED revolution which is taking place in the lighting industry.  ECI’s involvement will add further impetus.”

Squire Sanders provided legal advice to the shareholders.  PwC and LEK provided due diligence services on the transaction. Pinsent Masons, KPMG and AT Kearney provided advice to ECI. Ernst & Young advised on tax matters.

Harvard Engineering Background Information:

Established in 1993, Harvard has grown to become a leading player in the LED lighting and wireless street lighting industries. Harvard’s innovative range of products includes the CoolLED range of switchable drivers and LeafNut, the revolutionary wireless remote monitoring system for street lighting.


2012 – Winner of the Judges’ Choice Award at the Mail on Sunday’s Made in Britain Awards

2012 – Winner of the Lux Manufacturer of the Year Award

2012 – UK National Finalist for the European Business Awards

2011 – Winner of the Orange Innovation Award at the National Business Awards

2011 – Winner of the Innovation award at the Wakefield Express Business Awards

2011 – Winner of a Queen’s Award for Enterprise, within the Innovation category

2010 – Winner of the Yorkshire Forward Innovator/10: Innovation in Action Award

2010 – Winner of the Light Sources & Controls Award at the Lighting Design Awards

About ECI Partners:

Founded in 1976, ECI is a growth focused investor and one of the longest established and most successful private equity groups in the UK. With offices in London and Manchester, ECI specialises in management buyouts, buyins and development capital deals with growth companies valued between £10 million to £150 million.

Specialising in industrial, TMT, business services, healthcare and consumer companies, ECI has sold over 85 investments with a total value of over £2.5 billion since 1990.

ECI remains a natural partner for companies with growth potential and ambition.

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