Organic Growth Masterclass: Evergreen, backed by Exponent Private Equity

Recruiting a senior team, focusing on environmental sustainability and investing in brand awareness have all helped to drive organic growth at garden consumables business Evergreen, says Simon Davidson, senior partner at Exponent private equity

When Exponent bought the business in 2017, it was a collection of unwanted European and Australian brands from an American business, Scotts Miracle- Gro, which had changed its strategy to focus on the US market and hydroponics, says Simon Davidson.

He says: “It took over six months for us to do the due diligence and actually carve out the business. At the point of entry, the business had sales of about €250m, and an Ebitda of €19m. Many of the brands had strong heritage, high consumer brand recognition and market leadership, but they needed to be put into a coherent strategy. Together, we knew we could build them into a leading garden consumables business. Now, the sales are €450m and Ebitda is more than €60m.”


Simon says: “As the carve-out was from a US business, we had to hire the entire senior team completely from scratch. The European business didn’t have a CEO, CFO, strategy officer or chairman, so one of the first things we did was put people into those positions.

We changed the business from having a matrix structure to one with very strong regional managing directors with clear accountability, and found excellent leaders to fill these roles.”


Simon says: “Along with our new management team, we constructed a whole new strategy for the business, with a significant focus on environmental sustainability.

We wanted to be the greenest garden company in Europe, an important trend that was resonating with both consumers and retailers.

We massively increased the investment into R&D, in order to develop natural alternatives. 75 per cent of our products now have a natural formulation, and we’re excited that in the next few years, this will reach 100 per cent. We are leading the market in the move towards peat-free growing media. Moveover, the business is carbon neutral, generating 25 per cent of its energy from green sources, and we are continuously increasing the amount of recycled plastics in our products.

We’re also the first home and garden company to be certified on the circular economy, which we’re proud of.”


Simon says: “We have invested significantly into advertising and new product development. Our brands are now the best-known brands in their respective categories. This has increased consumer demand, which in turn, drives the desire of retailers to list these brands.

We also put a lot of focus on salesforce effectiveness, category management, and driving online sales, which the business didn’t have before. We’re now in a position where nine of the top 12 SKUs on in our categories are from Evergreen.”