A former chief executive of Boots is staging a return to the health and wellbeing sector by engineering the purchase of one of Britain’s biggest private providers of physiotherapy services.
Sky News understands that bd-capital, a private equity firm co-founded by Richard Baker, will announce on Wednesday the acquisition of a large stake in Ascenti, which launched 25 years ago as a provider of rehabilitation services to motor accident victims.
The company has since grown into a nationwide network of 300 physios offering physical and mental wellbeing care, with demand for the latter soaring during the coronavirus pandemic.
The terms of bd-capital’s investment were unclear on Tuesday, although insiders said that Ascenti’s founder and management team would remain as investors in the business.
One insider said Ascenti’s technology platform had been a significant factor in persuading Mr Baker and his partner at bd-capital, Andy Dawson, to invest.
It will be the second deal announced by bd-capital since its formation in 2019, following an investment last year in Symprove, a manufacturer of probiotic products which has tapped into a growing trend among health-conscious consumers.
Mr Baker is widely regarded as one of Britain’s leading businessmen, having chaired Whitbread, the then owner of Costa Coffee, after stepping down as Boots’ chief executive.
After stepping back from his boardroom roles in 2018 to take a year off, he has become a director of the All England Lawn Tennis Club, which is preparing to stage the Wimbledon tennis tournament in July following its cancellation last year.
Prior to running Boots, which he helped to sell to KKR in 2006, he was an executive at companies including Asda and Mars.
Mr Baker declined to comment.