MBO leads to new team at historic family-owned Burnley group

Members of the post-buyout John Spencer Textiles and Ian Mankin team

A family-owned Burnley firm has changed hands via a management buyout by one of its directors.

Long-established firm Ashfield Mill Company, and its subsidiaries John Spencer (Textiles) and Ian Mankin, are now under the control of a team led by Simon Blackley, who has been a director of the business since 2009, following the MBO for an undisclosed sum.

Over the years Simon has worked closely with co-owners and directors David and Megan Collinge to grow the firm to where it is today. The parent company and its subsidiaries will retain their respective identities and no jobs will be affected.

John Spencer was incorporated in 1971 but the business dates back 150 years. It has grown to become one of the leading weaving businesses in the UK making a wide range of fabrics in a diverse selection of yarns and raw materials.

The company, which sources raw materials from all over the world, manufactures fabrics to its customers’ own designs and specifications. All its fabrics are woven in its own mill which means every product produced by John Spencer can genuinely be labelled as ‘Made in Britain’. The firm is also committed to preserving traditional crafts and skills.

End uses for its fabrics include interior furnishings, fashion, industrial, protective clothing, military uniforms, lamination, filtration, composites, footwear, luggage, automotive and parachutes. It has pioneered the use of organic and sustainable fabrics and offers additional research and development services.

One of its most recent projects was the production of an 18 metre-long tapestry to mark the late Queen’s Platinum Jubilee. The piece was called ‘The Lancashire Tapestry’ and was created by Jamie Holman, a local artist born and based in Blackburn. It was unveiled at a special ceremony at Blackburn Cathedral in June.

Ian Mankin is a renowned weaver of designer furnishing fabrics. It was founded in 1983 and is famous for its new and stylish interpretations of natural and organic fabrics in a simple, yet timeless, palette of colours.

Lauded by designers, industry press and customers alike for its dedication to the creation of fabrics of the highest quality, Ian Mankin has become the place to go place for natural British woven fabrics and furnishings, the company says. Its core collection is made up of signature stripes, checks and plains. It also offers a large range of wallpapers and accessories.

Simon Blackley said: “David and Megan have built a strong group of companies – I am excited to build on their success. I am looking forward to the prospect of further developing the business through innovation and creative change. It promises to be an exciting and immensely rewarding journey for me, our staff, our suppliers and customers alike.”

Exiting co-owner, David Collinge, said: “Being the sixth generation of our family to run the business and being part of the team and journey that has witnessed the Ashfield Mill group of companies develop into superior, widely recognised brands, has been fantastic.

“Without the dedication of a great workforce none of this would have been possible. The buyout represents the next chapter for some exciting developments, initiating even more growth, I have no doubt that under Simon’s leadership the businesses will continue to do amazing things.”

Jane Parry, managing partner and head of tax at Blackburn and Bury-based chartered accountancy, business advisory and planning group, PM+M, advised David and Megan Collinge on the key elements of the sale with Richard Robinson, Sharon Graves, Nicola Ciraolo and David Hill from Napthens advising on the legal aspects of the deal.

Jane said: “The business is a real Lancashire success story, and we were delighted to lead on the financial aspects of the deal. Simon has been an integral part of the firm’s success over the past 13 years and has a clear plan for growth so I’m sure it will go from strength to strength under his stewardship.”

Richard Robinson, corporate partner at Napthens, said: “John Spencer Textiles has been a staple of the British textile industry for more than 150 years. Born in Lancashire, the company’s longstanding reputation for quality, and commitment to embracing new technologies, has been key to its success.”

Jim Akrill, consultant in PM+M’s corporate finance team, worked with Simon Blackley on the valuation, corporate finance and fundraising aspects of the acquisition.

Elaine Hurn, managing partner of Taylors Solicitors advised Simon Blackley and the MBO vehicle on the legal aspects of the acquisition, together with corporate partner Matthew Catterall and property partner John Lomax.

Elaine Hurn said: “We are very pleased that the transaction means that a thriving longstanding family textile group of companies remains locally owned and in experienced hands.”

Elaine Hurn was also the legal adviser to the late Queen’s Platinum Jubilee ‘Lancashire Tapestry’ project.

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