Jump to content

The Entrepreneurial Exchange


Focus Dinner

Acquisition can seem like a straightforward growth strategy.  But how do you ensure the deal stays on course?  This session looked at identifying targets, the acquisition process and post deal integration.  This event was aimed at entrepreneurs working on their acquisition strategies.

Graham Forrest has led Northern Bear since 2006, having served previously as FD and CEO of four separate publicly-listed companies. Northern Bear is a holding company for a number of businesses providing materials and services to the construction sector. It has based its expansion on the acquisition of what it calls ‘mature, North East owner-managed businesses’ in the building services and materials sectors, which have shown that they can consistently deliver profitability and generate cash.  There are now 10 trading subsidiaries in the group, which together employ over 350 people.  Graham will share his passion for raising funds for acquisition and will bring to life the incredible growth strategy that has seen annual turnover of £12m in December 2006 leap to a projected £50m in 2008.  He will also outline his plans for the future of the Group and how he brings his particular brand of enthusiasm to the money markets.  This has allowed his operational MDs to drive the existing businesses forward and provide the resources to bring more companies into the Northern Bear fold.

After taking control of the family business, Lightbody Family Bakers and Confectioners in 1995, Martin Lightbody took the bold decision to sell the bakery chain for £2m.   His vision was to move the company into the niche market of celebration cakes, and this vision has paid off. In the 12 years since Martin made this move, he has guided Lightbody from a standing start to sales of £50m per annum and the company is now firmly established as the UK's largest supplier of licensed and non-licensed celebration cakes.  At the start of 2007 Lightbody reversed into Finsbury Food Group Plc and Martin took over as Chief Executive in September 2008. The combined Group will have 3,500 staff and be transformed into one of the UK’s leading premium cake businesses, with access to a strong portfolio of brands and licenses and have a combined turnover of approximately £200 million. The acquisition has also provided the platform to expand into Europe, offering excellent growth and earnings potential in this lucrative market.

The evening will be chaired by Exchange Chief Executive John Anderson.


Venue information

Hotel Du Vin At One Devonshire Gardens One Devonshire
G12 0UX


John Anderson, The Entrepreneurial Exchange


  • Graham Forrest, Northern Bear plc, www.northern-bear.com
  • Martin Lightbody, Lightbody Ventures, www.lightbodycakes.com

Show venue on a map or Read the biographies.


"A great comparison between the two styles of acquisition, how to fund such ventures and differences in payments in the current financial situation".

"Excellent topic, highly relevant".

"Having participated in a number of acquisitions it was interesting to see how others had done it and it was useful to contribute to the general conversation, giving my advise and experiences, for what it was worth".

"Attempt to structure a deal with longer payment terms which helps pay for itself. We did this last year with our first acquistion and it worked very well".

"Dont be afraid to walk and its never to late to move the goalposts".

"Key tip - Importance of trust in the dealmaking, being firm on your principles, advisors need a good talking to on price!".

"John was excellent"

"John was fab as usual".

"Graham Forrest - it was so refreshing to have someone new that I'd heard nothing about prior to the event. Also to find out how things are done in a different area of the UK".

"Martin was an honest unassuming interesting guy".

"Martin was very good - his venture's are way above the scope of what we're looking at but great to learn how he did broker the deals and dealt with advisors".

Upcoming events

Registered in Scotland. Company registration number SC160976.
Registered office: Barncluith Business Centre, Townhead Street, Hamilton, ML3 7DP. Developed by Mercurytide