Michael Tait is an independent chairman with 25 years’ experience in developing or turning around private equity backed companies. Mike has worked with many leading names in private equity such as 3i, Electra Europe, Sovereign Capital, Advent International and Milestone Capital and banks such as RBS, Hambros and Investec.
Mike has a strong corporate background. He was Vice President & General Manager, Europe-Africa for Unisys Corporation, the world’s second largest computer company and built a £500m Europe-Africa IT business. Under Mike’s leadership, Unisys became one of Europe’s leaders in UNIX and distributed systems. Mike was a key member of the Europe-Africa Board.
Mike has also held senior management posts with Digital Equipment Corporation, Tesco Stores, RHM Foods and Argos.
Mike became chairman of 23.5 Degrees, the leading UK Starbucks franchise network where he presided over a period of considerable growth to 40 stores and DriveThrus and the achievement of considerable growth in revenues and profits. This successful chain now has over 90 Starbucks stores.
Previously, Mike, with his management team, developed Coffee Nation to a network of over 900 sites across the country with Tesco, Welcome Break, Sainsbury, Moto and other big retail names, and created and led the sale of the company to Costa Coffee for £59.5m.
Mike led as executive chairman, the turnaround and development of Claims Management Group, a leading Lloyds and London Market insurance services company, and subsequently sold the business to Capita Group Plc for £32m.
Mike was originally trained as a mechanical and production engineer with Pye/Philips and Rolls-Royce.
Over the past four years Michael has been Chair, Member, Vice Chair of a Multi Academy Education Trust in Norfolk in parallel with his interests in property development in Dorset.
Michael Tait has conducted 18 assignments over a 23 year period, as CEO, chairman or Executive Chairman for private equity backed companies:
23.5 DEGREES (LARGEST STARBUCKS FRANCHISE) – CHAIRMAN
23.5 Degrees is now the premier franchise operator of over 100 Starbucks coffee retail stores backed by Connection Capital. Michael entered the business at 12 loss making stores and presided over a period of transformation to a very profitable 40 store network. Michael appointed the current CEO and encouraged the change of strategy to opening mostly large DriveThru stores. Michael remains a significant investor in the business.
ROSTIMA – INTERIM NON EXECUTIVE CHAIRMAN
Rostima was the leader in the development and implementation of Enterprise Workforce Planning and Management software systems for complex workforce environments in major international airports and maritime ports – based in the UK and Kuala Lumpur with customers in USA, Canada, Middle East, and across Asia. Backed by Albion Ventures and Downing. The company had around 30 employees and was bought by an Australian trade buyer in August 2015.
DEBT LINE – NON EXECUTIVE CHAIRMAN
Backed by Milestone Capital, Debt Line was one of the industry leaders in the UK debt management sector who managed the debts of 20,000 people in a highly regulated environment. 90 employees. Sold to a trade buyer, Fairpoint.
COFFEE NATION (COSTA EXPRESS) – CHAIRMAN
Coffee Nation was the leading self-serve gourmet coffee and services company supplying the public through retail and forecourt partners such as Tesco, Moto, Sainsbury, and Welcome Break across 900 locations. There were also sites in universities, hospitals, and business & industry. Michael worked closely with the management team and mentored and supported them in numerous disciplines including sales, marketing, machine engineering and logistics, IT and customer services. The installation base was more than doubled within three years and developed the business to £30m turnover. Michael Tait created and led the exit to Costa/Whitbread Plc in March 2011 where the company was sold for £59.5m which generated a 3.7x return on investor’s original investment.
CHOICE CARE HOMES GROUP – INTERIM EXECUTIVE CHAIRMAN
A private equity backed group of 40 care homes employing 750 staff that specialised in the residential care of people with a wide range of learning disabilities and complex needs including epilepsy, sensory impairments, Autism and Asperger’s Syndrome. In addition to running the business, Michael’s main task was to build a sales and marketing function and improve occupancy ahead of an exit. Michael was involved in all elements of this complex business including the mental health profiles of current and potentially new service users and the planning and opening of new homes. Completed Sept 2008.
CLAIMS MANAGEMENT GROUP (CMGL) – EXECUTIVE CHAIRMAN
A 650 person £41m turnover FSA regulated insurance claims services company which managed over 165,000 claims worldwide. The company administered 8 Lloyd’s syndicates representing £0.9 billion of open year capacity. This assignment was successfully completed in April 2007 with the turnaround of the company’s performance and the sale of the company by Michael to Capita PLC for £32m.
THE VENDING CORPORATION – NON EXEC ASSESSMENT ASSIGNMENT
The company was a leading European distributor and servicer of vending machines. Michael built a business plan and provided guidance on the next round of investment by private equity investors, Beringea. Nov/Dec 2007.
LAMBOURN – INTERIM NON EXECUTIVE CHAIRMAN
Lambourn were a Lloyd’s London broker of 60 people who also provided business process outsourcing services to the Lloyd’s Market and back office support to London Market companies and Lloyd’s Managing Agencies. I completed the assignment in March 2007 with the successful sale of the company to Capita PLC.
VISTA INTERNATIONAL – INTERIM GROUP CHIEF EXECUTIVE
Vista was a 120 people IT managed services and software solutions company with a £12m turnover. They provided software and services solutions for the publishing industry and were based in London and New Jersey. This was Michael’s fourth assignment for 3i where he successfully exited to a buyer in January 2006.
APPIAN TECHNOLOGY PLC – INTERIM CHIEF EXECUTIVE
Appian was an AIM listed CCTV and Automatic Vehicle Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) and Car Park entry systems company of 50 employees. The company installed average speed check gantries and systems on motorways, provided all police forces with ANPR speed check vehicles and supplied car park entry and monitoring equipment. Michael went in to sort out performance problems and seriously bad board relationships. This involved re-engineering most areas within the company, especially the installations and maintenance functions.
HOMEPRO – INTERIM NON-EXECUTIVE CHAIRMAN
Homepro was a ‘Check-a-Trade’ type of company of around 50 people listing thousands of vetted trades firms. They also sold insurance policies. Investors were Atlas Venture. The company was turned around and sold in August 2003 to management in an MBO. The main brief was to assess pipe-line and operating methods and support the CEO in determining strategy and implementing key programmes. Michael also supported the CEO with difficult customer deals and in the rebuilding of relationships with investors.
KNOWLEDGE TECHNOLOGIES INTERNATIONAL (KTI) – INTERIM CHIEF EXECUTIVE
KTI was an engineering design software and managed services business of 110 people and £18m turnover based in the UK, USA, Germany and France. Investors were Electra Europe. Michael achieved a successful turnaround where the company was made profitable for eight months and then after personally searching for a buyer, he sold the company in Nov’02 to Dassault Systemes, a large French public company. Example customers were Boeing, Airbus and Embraer who designed their aircraft using the design automation software called iCAD. Ford, Jaguar and Chrysler were also customers. This was a very successful turnaround where many jobs were saved and money returned to investors.
EMS – INTERIM NON-EXECUTIVE CHAIRMAN
A 3i backed 90 person telecoms managed services and software company based in New Zealand and UK. The company was sold to New Zealand VC investors in February’03. The main customer was British Telecom who was the reseller of the company’s network security software product. The company provided the outsourced security systems hosting, and management.
OXYGEN/CONNECTIONS PLUS – INTERIM NON-EXECUTIVE CHAIRMAN
Connections Plus was a 400-person call-centre business in Leeds, backed by Aberdeen Asset. The brief was to handle some very difficult board matters and oversee the sale of the company. The company was sold to management in a venture capital backed management buyout.
HOGART BVG – INTERIM NON-EXECUTIVE CHAIRMAN
Hogart was a 200 person ERP software solutions and services company in Poland backed by Advent International. The company represented Sun Systems, JD Edwards, Oracle and Cognos in Poland. The assignment was to evaluate the problems of the company and to get the management team focussing on restructuring and guiding them on the implementation of their re-growth programmes. Key was helping them rebuild confidence with their institutional investors.
INTERLINK – INTERIM CHIEF EXECUTIVE
Interlink was an e-banking and retail banking software and services company of 125 people and £15m turnover. Backers were CR2 and European venture capital firms GIMV, NIB and ACT. Michael completed a successful turnaround and rebuild of the company and hired a full-time CEO to take over the reins. Completed December 2000.
MONNET – NON EXECUTIVE CHAIRMAN
London-based telecoms software company for 3i. Completed Sept 2001. The company specialised in middleware software for telecoms dialling performance monitoring.
FLEXIBLE MANAGEMENT SYSTEMS (FMS) – INTERIM GROUP CHIEF EXECUTIVE
A 200 people, high value banking software and services company in the UK, France and Germany. Backers were 3i. Michael successfully turned the company around in November 1999 and remained in portfolio for some years.
EUROPEAN SOFTWARE PUBLISHING – EXECUTIVE CHAIRMAN (4 years 4 months)
Michael was Executive Chairman turning around and rebuilding a company specialising in VC backed incubator start-up ventures for USA software companies, and in developing Internet/Intranet/e-commerce applications. Michael sold the company to a USA trade buyer.