Former Timpson boss buys in to Aycliffe young entrepreneur's online rug business

A £3.2m buy-in gives Martin Tragen operational control of Modern Rugs

Modern Rugs' County Durham warehouse
Modern Rugs' County Durham warehouse

Online rug retailers Modern Rug have undergone a £3.2m management buy-in, which will see former Timpson group finance director Martin Tragen assume operational control.

The Aycliffe Business Park-based firm was established by 33-year-old Ben Dale, with support from his parents who ran a carpet business in Bishop Auckland.

The move, which is supported by Enterprise Ventures and PHD Equity Partners, will allow Mr Dale to release capital in the business while retaining an equity stake.

He will continue in the full-time role of technical and marketing director at the firm which operates from a 5,000 sq ft facility.

Martin Tragen, who becomes managing director of Modern Rugs, spent 19 years at Timpson during its growth from 160 to over 800 outlets. He has been involved in a number of turnaround projects including Total Fitness, the chain of health and fitness clubs.

Mike Seery, the former head of corporate recovery at KPMG in the North West, is investing alongside Martin Tragen and will take on a non-executive director role.

Wayne Thomas, who led the deal on behalf of Enterprise Ventures, said: “Ben has done a remarkable job of building a business which he started in his bedroom into the UK’s leading dedicated internet rug retailer.

“Martin’s appointment will bring additional structure that will be required for further growth, which will in turn allow Ben to focus on the digital and creative side.”

Craig Richardson of PHD Equity Partners added: “Since being introduced to Ben by Martin and Mike eighteen months ago we immediately liked the business model and what Ben had achieved on his own. We look forward to working with Ben, Martin and Mike in the future to build on the success to date.”

Ian Riggs of Hill Dickinson provided legal advice to PHD and Enterprise Ventures. Richard Saleh of Salehs llp provided legal advice to Martin Tragen and Mike Seery. Ben Dale was advised by Avondale Group.

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