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2 minute read • published in partnership with BDO

Insight: Supply chain resilience a key driver for mergers & acquisitions in manufacturing

The manufacturing mergers & acquisitions (M&A) market will remain active in 2021, with many deals likely to be driven by a desire to make supply chains more resilient, according the latest report from accounting and business advisory firm BDO – the most active M&A adviser in 2020 in the UK, Europe and globally.

BDO’s Manufacturing Deal Review 2020 suggests that the supply chain vulnerabilities exposed as a result of the pandemic and the transition out of the EU trading bloc could increase appetite for deals that allow businesses to onshore, re-shore or near-shore their supply.

Many corporates are also expected to reposition themselves by embarking on strategic acquisitions to diversify into new growth markets and technologies. Subsectors that have been impacted hard by the events of 2020 are also ripe for consolidation.

BDO’s latest report shows the manufacturing mergers & acquisitions market will remain active in 2021 – nearly 600 deals involving a UK manufacturer were completed in 2020 / Picture: Getty/iStock


BDO’s report found that the appetite for M&A in the manufacturing sector proved remarkably resilient in 2020, with nearly 600 deals completed during the year. Although this was a 13% decrease on 2019, this was almost wholly attributable to the Q2 lockdown which saw deal volumes plunge by 55% on the previous quarter. However, deal numbers climbed by 45% in Q3 and an impressive 91% in Q4 as stalled M&A processes restarted and corporates saw opportunities to accelerate strategic plans.

Engineering continued to be the most active subsector during the year accounting for 26% of deals, followed by food and drink (13%), building products (12%) and life sciences (12%). Life sciences was the fastest growing subsector during the year, with deal volumes rising by 68%.

Buy-outs continued to represent around one in five UK manufacturing deals in 2020, with private equity firms taking an increased interest in subsectors such as life sciences, food and drink, industrial automation, and test and measurement.

Roger Buckley, UK industrials mergers & acquisitions partner at BDO, said: “Deal activity held up remarkably well in 2020, and the market looks set to remain active in 2021. Many corporates have significant cash reserves to invest and private equity firms sitting on considerable stores of dry powder are competing to acquire quality manufacturing businesses that have proven their resilience over the last year.

“After the challenges of 2020, it’s unsurprising that many manufacturers are reviewing their supply base and we anticipate market movement as operators take steps to reshape supply chains.

“The pandemic has also focused minds on how markets will develop over the longer term, with corporates positioning themselves for a different future in which digitalisation, automation, sustainability and ESG appear higher on the agenda.”