Arbuthnot Commercial ABL -

A Client Success Story: Tivoli Group

Our Client Success Series tells the stories of some of the unique and talented clients we have supported, how they got started, and how we helped them achieve their ambitions.


9th October 2023


Cultivating success - from grass roots to growth

Driven by a passion for maintaining landscapes, parks and public areas as secure, functional, and aesthetically pleasing spaces, Tivoli Group (“Tivoli”) has emerged as the leading independent grounds maintenance service provider in the UK.

Tivoli's clients include the Ministry of Defence, many local authorities, housing associations, education and healthcare establishments, facility management companies, and a host of corporate businesses.

The business has a complex history, having previously operated under the umbrella of ISS A/S as ISS Facility Services Landscaping, a prominent integrated facilities management group. In 2018, it was deemed non-core to the overarching strategic vision of the parent company, prompting its availability for purchase. The intricate nature of disentangling the division from the larger group entity presented challenges for ISS A/S in identifying a suitable acquirer.

Nonetheless, Sullivan Street, the London-based private equity firm, recognised the significant underlying value in the division and opted to proceed with acquiring it. This marked the start of our involvement, a journey that would ultimately lead to Tivoli Group becoming our longest-standing client.

Tivoli Landscaping

Supporting Sullivan Street's platform acquisition

In 2018, we delivered a £12 million asset-based lending facility to support Sullivan Street’s acquisition of ISS Facility Services Landscaping, laying the foundations of its future growth strategy. The transaction not only delivered a significant quantum of funding towards the purchase consideration, but also provided the headroom to fuel the company’s ambitious growth trajectory.

Layton Tamberlin, Director at Sullivan Street Partners, reflected on the initial meeting with the Arbuthnot Commercial ABL team:

“The memory of the first meeting with Arbuthnot Latham stands out vividly in my mind for several reasons. Tim Hawkins and I had already worked on a previous transaction together before he joined the bank. We had organised a breakfast meeting to discuss Arbuthnot Latham's new ABL business and explore the prospects of the Tivoli deal. During my visit, news broke that our offices at Sullivan Street had suffered a break-in. Rather than allow this to derail our planned discussion, we pressed ahead with the scheduled meeting once it was confirmed everything was okay. The rest, as they say, is history.”

He continued:

“We were delighted to have acquired the ISS Facility Services Landscaping business via Tivoli in a complex carve-out transaction with the support of Arbuthnot Commercial ABL. Deciphering the revenue and profit in the original transaction was no small feat, given the intricate accounting required to extract the business from a larger entity. Recognising the risk involved, we overcapitalised the business to ensure its stability.

“We were impressed with Arbuthnot Latham’s team which instilled confidence in terms of their ability to deliver against a tight deadline. Two key factors stood out, their pragmatic approach to diligence, which facilitated a quick and efficient final credit approval process; and the agility of their lean team which expedited KYC processes, credit assessments and account opening – extremely important given this was a new entity acquiring trade and assets. With the expertise, speed, and successful execution they brought to this deal, it soon became apparent that Arbuthnot would be a future partner with which we could look to continue to raise asset-based lending in the years ahead.”

Tivoli Arboriculture - new Merlo Roto with Westtech Grapple SawTivoli Landscaping

Pursuing strategic expansion through buy-and-build acquisitions

In addition to fuelling Tivoli's expansion by extending additional accounts receivable financing, and plant and machinery term debt, we enabled Tivoli to pursue strategic acquisitions - the first being the purchase of Sodexo Horticultural Services. Sodexo has an impressive legacy spanning over 40 years and employs over 250 staff managing and delivering high-profile contracts throughout the UK. We facilitated this milestone acquisition in 2021, providing a £1.6m cash flow loan and a £3m Recovery Loan Scheme (RLS) facility. This acquisition complemented Tivoli’s strategy to grow organically as well as through acquisitions, further strengthening the company’s national coverage.


Overhaul of equipment

After four years of ownership, Sullivan Street and Tivoli had fully grasped the detail around return on capital for relative investment in equipment. Grounds maintenance is a relatively capital-intensive industry, and having the right equipment with the right quality can prevent large amounts of downtime, overtime, and agency costs, as well as minimising maintenance on the equipment itself.

In 2023, with the detail at their fingertips on this financial analysis, Sullivan Street decided to authorise a very significant overhaul of this equipment base. Arbuthnot stepped up to fully finance this investment, showing flexibility in appreciating the new approach to capital expenditure and a figure out of line with previous years - demonstrating an interest in understanding the detail of this analysis alongside Sullivan Street.


Greenfingers - Tivoli's next chapter in growth

Building on the success of the Sodexo acquisition, Tivoli Group Ltd added another chapter to its success story in 2023 by acquiring a Midlands-based landscaping business, Greenfingers Landscape Ltd. This important strategic move was again supported by our asset-based lending solutions increasing the facility limit to £18.7m, further propelling Tivoli’s growth.

Greenfingers, established in 1996 and headquartered in the North West of England, operates with a workforce of approximately 120 staff and generates an annual turnover exceeding £4million. The company’s services cater to a range of landowners across both public and private sectors, including multiple housing associations. The latest acquisition aligns with Tivoli's commitment to expand its service portfolio.

Layton Tamberlin added:

“The Greenfingers transaction was a strategic move for us that did not necessitate extra debt. The crucial factor here was Arbuthnot’s comfort with the shift in cash flow, which was key to the acquisition's success. It was also an acquisition that needed to be closed within a week to ensure stability in the business – Arbuthnot met that deadline with virtually no prior notice!”


A lasting partnership

“If I were to encapsulate the relationship with Arbuthnot, I would say it is a true partnership. They have been incredibly supportive since we embarked on this journey together, showing great trust in our approach. They have backed the business all the way, through the tumultuous times of the pandemic and beyond.”

He concluded:

“Working with Arbuthnot Commercial ABL has been a fantastic experience. Seeing the business through all these phases while maintaining adaptability sends a resounding message. We tend to move at pace and while I am sure they would appreciate more notice at times, their team has always been highly responsive, flexible and supportive. They have consistently demonstrated their ability to mobilise the firm quickly. The portfolio team is always swift to escalate and get on top of the details and their credit approach is highly pragmatic. What sets Arbuthnot apart is their genuine care for our relationship, which extends far beyond just the fees or numbers. It is about fostering a long-term relationship, understanding and support, and that is ultimately what makes them so great to work with.”

With a history spanning three decades, dedicated to serving both the public and private sectors, Tivoli’s accomplishments have been recognised by numerous awards. With a turnover of circa £65million and around 1,200 staff, the company is highly regarded for directly delivering dependable, high-quality services across diverse project areas. These include grounds maintenance, landscape construction, tree surgery, winter maintenance and interior plants and floristry.


Make an enquiry

Take control of your finances today by completing our enquiry form. Alternatively, you can get in touch by contacting one of our regional Business Development Directors.

Enquiry Form

This is required

I am a...

This is required

This is required

This is required

This is required

Our clients value a highly personal relationship banking service. Commercial customers are usually running businesses with a turnover of greater than £1m per annum.

This is required

This is required

This is required

This is required

This is required

This is required

This is required

This is required

This is required

This is required

This is required

View our Privacy Notice

Further reading

A client success story: Angels Costumes

Our Client Success Series tells the stories of some of the unique and talented clients we have supported, how they got started, and how we helped them achieve their ambitions.


Gatwick Office: The Beehive, City Place, Gatwick, RH6 0PA

Registered in England and Wales no. 10915339. Arbuthnot Commercial Asset Based Lending Limited’s registered office is Arbuthnot House, 7 Wilson Street, London, EC2M 2SN. Arbuthnot Commercial Asset Based Lending is not authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.


News and updates

Follow us on social media for news, insights and updates on our product offerings on LinkedIn and Twitter


This communication should be considered a marketing communication. It has not been prepared in accordance with legal requirements designed to promote the independence of investment research. It is for information purposes only and does not constitute advice, a solicitation, recommendation or an offer to buy or sell any security or other investment or banking product or service. You should seek professional advice before making any investment decision. The value of investments, and the income from them can fall as well as rise, and may be affected by exchange rate fluctuations. Investors could get back less than they invest. Past performance is not a reliable indicator of future results. The tax treatment of investments depends upon individual circumstances and may be subject to change.

The contents of this communication are based on opinions or conditions as at the date of writing and may change without notice. To the extent permitted by law or regulation, no warranty of accuracy or completeness of this information is given and no liability is accepted for its use or reliance on it.