ACT-Clean’s capital status signals a bright future in hospitality

Years of spotless professionalism and a strong capital foundation have paid off for high end hotels and restaurant service ACT-Clean that’s now going for growth after turbulent times. “The market is bouncing back and so are we,” declares chief operating officer Gillian Thomson who is forecasting a £16 million turnover this year followed by £25 million in 2024.

Working with central London’s rich seam of hospitality clients, including private members clubs and venues, the business has a 600-strong workforce and supplies fully managed porter teams, kitchen night staff and front of house cleaning services.

Cleaning alongside compliance at this level has always been complex work and never more so than since Covid.

“Some may still under-estimate what cleaning involves, but there’s a lot more respect for what we do now,” says Thomson.

“We are the boots on the ground so everything is ready when the day begins, but work is behind the scenes. 

“All the things we do are not so obvious. Yet we have to meet hundreds of requirements for health and safety. It’s hugely important, both for clients and our teams.

“They have to be aware, for example, how they manage the appliances they are dealing with, which can be burning hot.

“Front of house that could involve the handling of luxury interiors, so how to clean a marble floor correctly.” 

The company’s meticulously high standards have spawned both client retention and organic growth.

“We’ve built a detailed and robust map of our sector and we translate the opportunities into a target plan and work through that in a very systematic way,” explains Thomson.

“We do the same for our customers mapping their service, satisfaction and feedback to monitor improvements and where more are needed. Contact is retained at all levels. 

“We’re innovative through efficiency in how we recruit and train staff, payroll management and our bespoke data and record keeping. When things don’t go right we sort it quickly.”

Naturally industrious, Thomson, who has never lost her desire to make things as shipshape as possible for others and is much admired for her bagpipe playing, began her working life cleaning holiday chalets.

After being a client of ACT-Clean she joined the business which benefited from a wider commercial trend to outsource services. 

A management buyout in 2017 and critical support from private equity investor Connection Capital, which took a majority stake, saw the business flourish with investment in systems adding value and 

Then its funding for growth also provided ACT-Clean with the resilience to withstand the cliff edge of lockdown and restructure. 

After experiencing its contracts shrink and over £3 million owed and 36,000 hours of client service drop to 220 overnight due to lockdown, “we’ve seen nearly most monies owed returned, and paying the London Living Wage is helping attract staff,” adds Thomson.

“We coped with the worst by taking one day at a time.”

Now the company is now eyeing potential acquisitions and teaming up with complementary services ahead of a private equity sale further down the line. 

“We learned not to dwell and move on,” Thomson declares. “The renaissance is here.”  

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  • Clients of UK-based private equity firm Connection Capital are able to invest directly in private equity transactions backing established, profitable UK SMEs with funding for growth or to support a management buyout. 

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