PM+M – the Blackburn and Bury-based chartered accountancy, business advisory and financial planning group – has acted in a landmark deal that saw long-established and family owned Burnley firm Ashfield Mill Company Limited and its subsidiaries, John Spencer (Textiles) Limited and Ian Mankin Limited, be acquired via an MBO.

The value of the deal has not been disclosed but the MBO was led by Simon Blackley who has been a director at the business since 2009. 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 Limited 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. Its core collection is made up of signature stripes, checks and plains. It also offers a large range of wallpapers and accessories.

Simon Blackley commented on the deal:

“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 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 Parry commented:

“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. It’s been a pleasure to have worked with David and Megan Collinge on the transaction, and we wish the new management team every success as they build on the legacy of the company.”

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 commented:

“Taylors Solicitors have been renowned for over 30 years as the leading legal advisers to the textiles and home furnishings industries. Having worked with Simon prior to his joining Ian Mankin and known him for over 20 years, Taylors Solicitors were his natural first choice for the transaction.  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 Queens Platinum Jubilee “Lancashire Tapestry” project.

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Published On: October 18th, 2022