Acquisition agreement. Under CC 3.0 Creator attribution: Nick Youngson - link to - has made a major acquisition in the UK, buying Wise Software (UK) Ltd (OrderWise), an ERP software vendor with over 1,000 customers. Based in Lincoln, OrderWise will bring 200 staff to the Forterro Group in the UK, massively strengthening its presence there.

It also adds 10% to its total number of European customers, raising it to 11,000. It will also bring the group nearly £17 million in annual revenue. This is Forterro’s second acquisition in the UK, following 123insight last year.

Dean Forbes, CEO of Forterro
Dean Forbes, CEO of Forterro

Dean Forbes, CEO of Forterro, commented: “We warmly welcome OrderWise, its people and customers. OrderWise and its products are a perfect fit with the Forterro vision and cements our position as the leading provider of software solutions for the industrial SMEs of Europe.”

Why OrderWise?

Enterprise Times spoke to Dean Forbes, CEO of Forterro, on the eve of the announcement. According to Forbes, OrderWise has also been growing, adding around 15% new logos a year and 20% to its revenues each year. Enterprise Times asked Forbes the reason behind the acquisition.

“We’re European focused and building the European category leader. We were a bit underpowered in the UK economy, which is an important economy to be considered the European leader. One part was geographic, and the other is we’re expanding our vertical footprint to not just manufacturing but also following the supply chain a little bit to wholesale distribution. We started that with MyFactory last year. This was another step into that industrial expansion, which is part of our strategy.”

Richard Furby, president of Forterro Northern Europe and group M&A, added: “Forterro’s portfolio of solutions for the midmarket manufacturing sector comprises a diverse range of local and vertical industry solutions. OrderWise has a core strength in the UK warehousing and distribution spaces, which when added to our acquisition last year of DACH-focused myfactory, means we now serve the needs of over 5,000 European customers in these two niches alone.”

What does OrderWise offer?

OrderWise offers several products across a range of industries. The website notes its solutions as:

  • ERP
  • WMS
  • Stock Control system
  • Multi-Channel Software (eCommerce)

It targets industries such as wholesale distribution, Merchant and Trade counter, retail, Apparel and footwear, 3PL, pharma, Manufacturing, and food & beverage. Enterprise Times asked Forbes what the strong points of the OrderWise product catalogue are.

Forbes answered: “Everything that goes with managing stock, warehouses, and inventory is where OrderWise really in a category of its own. Then the next part of that is engaging the next part of the supply chain, which might be a distributor or an end customer through their eCommerce and web capability. But the strongest footprint for OrderWise is everything around stock, warehouse and inventory, management, plus the financials that go with that.”

OrderWise also has its own financial solutions, on which Forbes commented: “We’ve been impressed by the strength of the financial application and the strength of its integration to the other modules, which you don’t get if it’s a third-party partner.”

What this means for OrderWise

David Hallam, founder and original developer of OrderWise, will leave the business after a short transition. Hallam noted: “This is a bittersweet moment for me. It will be one of my life’s greatest achievements to have built a business that has been able to help so many UK companies grow and thrive.

“The past two years have been our strongest to date. As we close in on another year of double-digit revenue growth and finalise the development of our browser-based version, OrderWise is in an ideal position for new ownership. I have been searching for a partner that would take this company to the next level, while allowing us to stay true to our roots and continue taking care of our customers. I am pleased to say that Forterro is that partner.”

How will this change things for OrderWise clients?

Forbes commented, “Well, we often see with founder-led businesses that they are managed really tightly. We’ve acquired OrderWise to accelerate the growth of that business. We think we can invest in some of the things that will make OrderWise grow and be more successful and therefore be cherished more by its customers than has been in the past. We expect a bit more on product innovation, go to market, account management and support.”

Hallam’s comment about the new browser-based solution inferred that the company is developing a new cloud-based solution. Forbes shared that the new cloud platform is being developed on Microsoft Azure, using the Microsoft technology stack. Enterprise Times asked Forbes whether it would be single or multi-tenant.

Forbes replied: “We’re still working on exactly what the long-term strategy for cloud will be. I think importantly for customers will be that we’re working on that for new customers and for existing customers to move as and when that makes sense for them.”

Pushing the product forward

What is on the product roadmap?

“It’s the push to Cloud, strengthening the eCommerce capabilities, and they’ve got some really interesting warehouse automation solutions as well.”

Will you look to take OrderWise outside the UK?

“In our strategy and rationale for acquiring, it continues to be a UK-focused business. Although the warehouse automation part of the stack, theoretically, could travel quite well. So, once we saw ourselves out of integration and onboarding, the team and the customers, and we deliver on the near-term product roadmap, we’ll be looking at that warehouse automation capability and seeing where else in the group we can put it to play.”

That capability is found in Wise Robotics, a firm dedicated to providing robotics solutions for warehouses to complement the OrderWise solutions and others.

Joining Forterro means what

Enterprise Times asked Forbes what the synergies are for this latest acquisition?

“This isn’t a synergy play. Sometimes we do these things, and there is a big synergy playing. This is a growth play. myfactory and this are both growth plays. If you look at both businesses, the founder CEO has left quickly. We’ve kept, elevated and supported both management teams and grown the business. This is more a growth playing versus a synergy play. It’s possible that we’ll find synergy opportunities, but that’s not the sharp end of the rationale here.”

One of the benefits of joining a larger organisation is the potential to leverage a bigger single brand. This rebranding of the portfolio of solutions seems to have been delayed, with Forbes saying it will now emerge in 2023.

It will not be a small undertaking and will no doubt be subtler for some products compared to others. Launching the Forterro solutions under the single Forterro brand could help cement the organisation as a leader in mid-market manufacturing ERP, rather than the owner of abas, myfactory, Jeeves, OrderWise and various other solutions.

Enterprise Times: What does this mean

This is the first acquisition since Partners Group acquired Forterro from Battery Ventures. It is a strong indication that the acquisitions will

OrderWise will significantly expand Forterro’s northern Europe region, with the product representing the group’s fourth largest revenue stream and fourth largest customer base. The acquisition marks Forterro’s second in the UK, following its acquisition of 123insight a year ago.

It also serves as Forterro’s inaugural acquisition under its new owners Partners Group, a leading global private markets firm acting on behalf of its clients. Expect more acquisitions to come; Forbes has identified the many small ERP firms across Europe that are potential targets.


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