Automated retail specialist sees record year of growth after £1.2m investment

(L-R) Manish Shah, chief executive of Aeguana, Clive Broadhurtst, portfolio director at Frontier Development Capital

Aeguana, a firm specialising in automated retail technology has experienced record-growth following a £1.2m growth capital investment.

The transaction – which was supported by Frontier Development Capital in September 2020 through its £100m FDC Debt Fund – saw Manish Shah become chief executive of the London headquartered firm.

FDC’s debt funding has enabled the firm to expand its production capabilities and develop its team of in-house experts, implementing efficiency and supply chain improvements needed to service Aeguana’s growing list of global brands and retailers, including WH Smith, Yakult and Carluccio’s. Sales activity has also increased by over 100% in the last 12 months with a strong pipeline of new opportunities in the months ahead.

Aeguana specialises in automated retail technology creating state-of-the-art unattended retailing solutions to dispensing anything from coffee, food, alcohol and even perfumes. The firm provides design, product development, mechanical, electronic and software engineering services, as well as experiential marketing and vending analytics.

Expertise in touchless vending has been in high demand in response to COVID-19. Aeguana’s Smart Fridges were adopted by the NHS to enable keyworkers to access meals quickly whilst on shift, becoming their biggest seller since the start of the pandemic.

Aeguana’s Eco Dispense technology, designed to eliminate single use plastic bottles via touchless automated re-fill stations, saw Sipple Hydration Stations win “Best Sustainable Product” at the 2021 Vendies award.

Mr Shah, said: “During the past year, we’ve taken some critical steps on the company’s growth journey. Our aim is to establish Aeguana as the number one supplier of automated retail solutions, engaging global customers using the latest technology and delivering innovative retail experiences

“Thanks to the investment and support from Frontier Development Capital, this vision is becoming a reality, with the business expanding its production capabilities, increasing sales and breaking into exciting new markets. We have achieved this by working alongside leading supply chain partners, enhancing our technology and reducing assembly lead times.”

The company recently announced a new range of barista machines with plans to launch these across the retail and hospitality sectors by the end of 2021.

Clive Broadhurst, portfolio director at Frontier Development Capital, said: “Frontier Development Capital prides itself on providing flexible debt funding to ambitious mid-market SMEs across England. When Manish presented us with his business plan for growth, we understood the massive potential for the Aeguana business. The company has gone on to successfully put this strategy into action over the past 12 months.

“FDC provides more than just capital and we look forward to continuing our partnership with Aeguana as it expands globally – providing flexibility, experience and expertise to the business as it realises upcoming growth opportunities.”

FDC provides flexible long-term debt funding of up to £7.5m for growth capital, shareholder transactions and property development to businesses across the United Kingdom.