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Battery Ventures buys 142 year-old testing equipment maker

Battery Ventures is best-known for backing early-stage tech startups, but the bi-coastal firm also has a vibrant buyout practice that focuses on more established companies. But perhaps none quite so mature as James Heal, a 142 year-old UK company that designs and manufactures test instrumentation and test equipment for the textile and garment industry.

Battery announced the deal this morning, and plans to use James Heal as the foundation for a new global acquisition platform focused on the physical test measurement space. Battery partner Jesse Feldman says that the firm settled on this space more than a year ago, and first made contact with James Heal via a cold call.

“Cold-calling in Europe is sometimes more effective for us than in the U.S., because of less banker coverage,” Feldman explains. “The guy we bought James Heal from is the son of a man who bought the business in 1940 when it was just a small enterprise with a couple of employees. He’s done an amazing job with it.”

Feldman says that Battery has a list of “over 100 companies” for potential platform add-ons, with a particular focus on the packaging market. He adds that geography is not a limiting factor, pointing out that his last platform build-out was Industrial Safety Technologies: “We started that one with a U.S. acquisition, then one in the UK, then in Norway and then in France.”

Battery Ventures currently is investing out of a $900 million fund raised in late 2012.

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