Oakley Capital, the leading pan-European private equity investor, announces it has reached a conditional agreement to invest in Steer Automotive Group, the UK’s largest and fastest-growing independent collision repair group.
Founded in 2018 by serial entrepreneur Richard Steer, Steer Automotive has expanded through 18 acquisitions, establishing a network of over 100 repair centres. The group facilitates repairs through its core passenger car and prestige repair centres, luxury brand centres and commercial vehicle locations.
Representing approximately 5% of the UK repair market, Steer employs over 2,300 people and repairs more than 115,000 vehicles a year. In 2023, Steer Automotive Group was ranked 36th in The Sunday Times’s list of 100 fastest-growing businesses in the UK, separately being recognised by The Independent as one of the top 100 job creators in the country and was awarded ‘ESG Excellence accreditation’ for its sustainability strategy.
Steer is a key partner for the UK’s leading vehicle insurers, accident management companies and OEM dealerships, holding 43 manufacturer accreditations, including recommendation and approval for major brands such as Porsche, Rolls Royce, Bentley, McLaren, Lamborghini, Aston Martin, JLR, Tesla, Mercedes Benz, Volkswagen Group, Stellantis and Ford.
Founder, Richard Steer, and the current management team will continue to lead the business and are reinvesting alongside Oakley. As part of the transaction, Oakley will acquire the shares held by Keyhaven Capital Partners and Chiltern Capital.
Chiltern Capital and Keyhaven Capital originally invested in the business in 2021. During their three-year investment period, Steer moved from a top 20 regional B2B collision repair business to a UK-leading position. Steer has invested significantly in its operational infrastructure and management team which has vastly improved its operational efficiency, while also introducing data & analytics tools to enhance KPI monitoring as well as rolling out a programme of ESG initiatives. The Company also launched the Steer Academy to diversify recruitment channels and to train and upskill the next generation of vehicle technicians.
Partnering with Oakley will facilitate Steer Group’s next stage of growth within the fragmented collision repair market, further strengthening its investment in its facilities, development and training through the Steer Academy programme, and EV repair capability to meet the demands of newer, more technologically advanced vehicles.
Steer Automotive Group Founder, Richard Steer said: “Over recent years we have built Steer into the UK’s leading automotive repair business, with major investments in the talent, technology, and systems required to serve the Automotive Industry as it undergoes huge change. Both Chiltern and Keyhaven have been great supporters of our business and have been instrumental in delivering the growth we have achieved to date.
We are delighted to have now secured a partnership with Oakley Capital to fuel the next phase of our growth. Oakley are a great fit for our business and complement our experience, with a very strong track record helping fast growing businesses through both organic growth and M&A. We see potential to further grow our share of the automotive repair market by building a unique sector-leading proposition that’s well positioned to meet the evolving needs of our clients, sustaining our strong focus on customer care and service quality.”