Louis Godron
Managing Partner

Believing more in the essence of a company than in its financial model. Trusting people, their commitment and their expertise more than raw data. This is what Argos Wityu does. We are proud to offer a model that sets it apart somewhat from the rest of the private equity sector. Our core skills are in our ability to detect the most attractive entrepreneurial ventures, rather than in leverage and financial engineering. And in finding ways for those companies to express their full potential, sometimes even surpassing their initial expectations. The originality of our model also lies in our team of 52 people with 16 different nationalities, present in six countries. An openness and diversity that makes us rich.

Over the past six months, our historical model has proven its strength and dynamism. We have invested in two companies, Schenk and Julhiet Sterwen, two entrepreneurial projects in which we deeply believe. And we have completed a sale, Cohedron, which should make both the Argos Wityu teams and the company proud, because it confirms and validates the strength of our strategy and the commitment of all our teams.

These successes reinforce our vision of investment: prioritising our commitment to people. A choice that has become a major success factor, both economically and financially, as the strategic decisions we have taken have paid off for the companies we support. Beyond that, this vision is also a catalyst for the teams. It is extremely satisfying for us when we see the emerging aspirations of the people who make up those companies.

In 2020, 70% of the companies Argos Wityu supports achieved earnings that equalled or surpassed their pre-crisis levels. And we are all the more committed to companies that are not yet in this situation to give them the means to achieve their objectives. This significant accomplishment was by no means a given for any of our companies. It was the result of countless discussions between Argos Wityu and the management teams, of their tenacious determination to reinvent themselves and take advantage of new business opportunities to outperform in an incredibly complex environment. All this, while maintaining a contagious desire for success and a penchant for bold, out-of-the-box thinking.

What’s next? Seeing our model validated has of course encouraged us to aim even higher. We are looking at tomorrow’s immense challenges with a feeling of maturity and collective confidence in our ability to achieve remarkable financial performance. Our guiding principle for expressing all the potential of our companies is to put priority on interpersonal relationships.

Video of Jeroen Ekkel, CEO of Cohedron​

As a service provider for municipalities and organisations, Cohedron has been accompanied in an extremely dynamic way by Argos Wityu for just over three years. Three years that saw the total transformation of the company into a coherent group. And which was marked by 17 acquisitions to diversify and complete its activity. In the end, the company transferred to House of HR is a structured group with a strong identity, well positioned for further growth – and this is what caught the attention of the new investor.

Selling a company: being ready for a new story

An investment fund’s involvement with a company is, by its very nature, limited in time. The experience Argos Wityu has acquired over the years has enabled us to develop not only recognized expertise but also strong convictions about how and when to exit an investment.

Companies remain in the fund for five years on average. That said, nothing is set in stone. “When the objectives of the roadmap are realised, we are ready to listen to solicitations, even after only two years,” says Karel Kroupa, Managing Partner, France. “Conversely, if we believe that the company’s outlook requires a longer time horizon or if there is a cyclical downturn, we allow ourselves to exceed five years in order to give the company more time to increase in value.” Another possible motive for exiting is that another growth phase is on the horizon, which will require a new long-term commitment.

Preparation, buy-in and confidentiality

“Respecting human criteria, both entrepreneurial and managerial, is important to us. We want the acquirer to respect the company’s philosophy and its strategic plan, with buy-in from the existing team”, Karel explains. This is one of the great strengths of Argos Wityu’s support during this sometimes delicate phase: hold both the team and the business together, by maintaining confidentiality throughout the process.

Another strength of Argos Wityu is the capacity to create consensus around the decision. Anticipation is key, both in considering the various options and in ensuring that all of the people involved find their place in the new, future plan. For this reason, it generally takes 12-18 months to prepare an exit managed by Argos Wityu. This essential, preliminary work pays off. All of Argos Wityu’s exits have been favourably received by the works councils of the companies sold. We are proud of this recognition because it underlines the extent of our commitment to the companies we support.

To handle all of these parameters, Argos Wityu systematically calls upon outside consultants or recruits specialists devoted to supporting corporate transmission. This is an additional card we play to make this pivotal time a success for all parties concerned and help achieve the objective. And give the companies we have supported all the keys to continue their growth path

The human factor is central to every investment

Schenk, a family-owned transport company, was faced with a double challenge: to change its shareholding and management and to integrate ESG issues into its business. Everything to attract the attention of Argos Wityu. With its sector and ESG expertise and its ability to change a company’s management, Argos Wityu made a strong commitment to Schenk to write a new page in its growth.

Julhiet Sterwen is a consulting firm specialised in corporate innovation and transformation which has grown by 70% over the last few years. A firm that has implemented a strong “Consulting for Good” initiative and that places human values and the commitment of its teams at the centre of its strategy. This resonates strongly with Argos Wityu’s own convictions. Our common goal is to take this human approach even further and allow Julhiet Sterwen to benefit from our pan-European expertise for development beyond the French borders.

Argos Wityu has supported more than 80 companies and realised more than 150 build-ups for these companies. The years have only strengthened our conviction that while every investment decision is based on a multitude of factors (attractiveness of the sector, potential market growth, competition, etc.), at the end of the day, the interpersonal dimension outweighs all others.

Management teams sometimes must implement strategic decisions to respond to situations that were unpredictable even a few weeks earlier. “You do every conceivable analysis, yet in all likelihood, over the next few years things will have evolved differently from what you imagined”, says Frank Hermann, Managing Partner, DACH. “So you need a team that’s structured is such a way as to respond to the challenges you might face.”

Mutual confidence is key

Against this background, the individual qualities of the people at Argos Wityu, as well as those of the management team, inspire mutual confidence. Moreover, when it comes time to choose investments, management’s motivation turns out to be a decisive factor. We look for executives who are curious and engaged, who have an in-depth understanding of their company’s operations, and who are also enthusiastic about new growth and development. “Ideally, we look for a team that is strong operationally, and that at the same time has lots of ideas about how it can develop its sales and marketing capacity”, says Frank in summary. A state of mind that echoes that of the Argos Wityu teams, and which subsequently reveals its full potential. Naturally, this is also the type of profile Argos Wityu seeks when it is looking to install a new management team, such as when a company is bought up by its managers or when its long-standing owner retires.

This human factor is also central to the trust that CEOs place in Argos Wityu’s teams when we arrive as shareholders. Because CEOs expect – legitimately – a lot from their new partner, and their expectations go well beyond the financial dimension. In addition to an in-depth understanding of the company, we want the Argos Wityu teams to have the ability to listen, analyse and advise to be a true sparring partner, with whom management can interact with confidence and whatever the circumstances.

Principles that can go the distance

This is where Argos Wityu’s expertise can be particularly valuable. “Three decades of supporting companies has taught us how quickly the prevailing winds can change”, says Frank. “It’s obviously an asset that we have been able to navigate through every crisis we have encountered.” On another register, many companies would like to conquer new markets. The pan-European dimension of the Argos teams is a significant advantage that gives companies confidence in a relationship set to last five to seven years.

Argos’s openness and ability to readily communicate information are, in this regard, decisive. Frank concludes that “in practice, you can motivate individuals only if you have created an environment of trust, with an open exchange of information. If your partners are afraid of you or if your demands are unreasonable, the opposite occurs. We know that a crucial part of our success depends on our ability to motivate management in the most positive way possible.” And this is what our successes of the last six months have shown.

Keys to value creation

The Argos Wityu teams have been developing an entrepreneurial and pragmatic approach, designed to harness the full potential of the companies they support. Beyond words and intentions, this approach is based on both strong expertise and the commitment of the teams. To evoke Argos’s value creation strategy, Jean-Pierre Di Benedetto, Managing Partner, Italy, uses the analogy of a two-stage rocket. “The first stage is our capacity, recognised Europe-wide, to resolve complex transactional situations, such as carve-outs, spin-offs, management transitions, etc. Once that stage has been cleared, the second stage consists in capitalising on our past experience and enabling the companies we support to benefit from it.”

Expertise in growth

That philosophy has proven itself in helping companies grow and develop. It looks beyond sectoral specialisation to “macro-themes” and how to be effective in them. Put another way, it looks to respond to changing market expectations. This strategic choice is the strength and specificity of Argos Wityu. And it is proving its relevance today with its ability to respond to top-priority challenges like digitalisation, process transformation and full integration of ESG challenges. Another key to success in which the human factor is central is properly disseminating know-how throughout the organisation.

Argos Wityu shares its pan-European experience so as to constantly adapt to the challenges of the day. “Our field of expertise is growth”, says Jean-Pierre. “It is based on the excellence of our employees and even more importantly, on our ability to share what we have learned from our successes and our mistakes.”. The business projects also benefit from the expertise of the ecosystem of Argos Wityu partners that has developed over the years. Argos has three or four European experts in each sector whose presence is invaluable for discussing, evaluating solutions and cultivating relationships with a community of prominent, local business leaders.

Trust and motivation

Consequently, over the years, Argos Wityu has more and more systematically disseminated its experience throughout the companies in its portfolio. Here too, the quality of our relationship with management teams has been a key factor. Argos’s legitimacy is based on its compelling mixture of expertise, accessibility and goodwill, which form the foundation of the relationship of trust it maintains with its companies.

“Experience has taught me that good or bad luck does not exist, or at least, that they balance out over time”, explains Jean-Pierre. “To succeed, you need hard work, optimism and unfailing motivation. Most often, it’s personal motivation and the ability to motivate a team that have a decisive influence on the result of an undertaking.”

What we can do for you: 3 companies, 3 ways we create value

Case Study #1

Build sustainable growth at Latteria e Caseificio Moro

Italian leader in the production of mozzarella and ricotta cheese

This family-owned Italian company had everything to attract Argos Wityu’s attention: a local base, family management and ambitions combining development and ESG issues.

Why we chose to work together

  • A family-owned company with local roots and relationships stretching back more than 20 years with a diversified portfolio of customers.
  • Real investment in energy efficiency (solar energy, biomass, waste reduction, etc.)

What we are achieving together

  • Defining a business plan and a shared vision with Moro’s management
  • Make the MBI underway a success, thanks to the proven expertise of Argos’ teams
  • Identify targets for international expansion
Case Study #2

EPC Groupe, resolve a transactional complexity and move forward

One of the world leaders in the manufacture, storage, distribution and deployment of civil explosives.

This family-owned business needed external expertise to unravel a real transactional complexity and reach a consensus between more than 50 shareholders on its development strategy. A challenge worthy of Argos Wityu’s expertise.

What we have done together to make the common story possible

  • Resolving the transactional complexity, taking into account the family shareholding.
  • Definition of a coherent roadmap to structure the company’s future.

Our collective challenges for the future

  • Adapt to regular organic growth
    Stimulate innovation through more than 50 projects.
  • Step up development on promising markets, through both organic growth and acquisitions.
Case Study #3

Support LoQu’s rapid, innovation-based growth

Leading German chain of eyewear and hearing aid stores.

Ambition and innovation: this is what caught our attention in this German company. The challenge of this support lies in the deployment of new concepts and digitalisation.

Why we chose to work together

  • Strong market position: LoQu is the dominant player in the German market, with 73 company-owned stores and 11 franchises.
  • Favourable market momentum: the population is ageing and the German market is fragmented.
  • Clear path to growth: acquire smaller opticians, develop the franchise concept, expand into the centre of mid-sized cities.

Our common ambition…

  • 19 store openings planned for 2021
  • 108 stores openings planned by 2025

…Supported by a strategy of growth we believe in

  • Development of an innovative jewellery store concept
  • Digitalisation of omnichannel concept
  • Continued expansion into new sales regions
  • Acquisition of high-end opticians in city centres
  • Focus on professionalising processes and achieving operational excellence (hearing aids)

Why should you partner with Argos?