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School furniture firm looks to future


An historic Yorkshire specialist furniture company is planning growth after two directors bought the shares of a fellow director, who is retiring.

A successful 135 year old specialist furniture company in West Yorkshire is set for further growth.  The deal was arranged by David Whitehouse of The Co-operative Bank, and the bank was advised by Jonathan Simms of Clarion's corporate team. 

British Thornton ESF Limited and its parent company, British Thornton Direct Limited, have negotiated increased facilities with the bank including a new cash flow loan facility and an increase in the property loan originally granted to fund the company’s current premises.  The additional facility has allowed the existing directors Gary Wilks and Stuart Little to acquire the shares of fellow director, David Jevons who is retiring.

British Thornton ESF Limited is a leading designer, manufacturer and installation expert in furniture and fittings for education establishments and industrial research laboratories.  Over its long history, it has established a reputation for quality and has become the largest independent manufacturer of school furniture in the UK.

Six years ago, the company expanded to a 4.7 acre freehold site in Keighley comprising its headquarters and an 110,000 sq ft manufacturing complex.  The £3m investment in new premises plus a further £2m in new machinery, has enabled the business to continue to grow and it now employs 170 staff.

The deal was arranged by David Whitehouse, corporate relationship manager for The Co-operative Bank, and the bank was advised by Jonathan Simms of Leeds law firm Clarion.  The management team was represented by David Paterson of Blacks Solicitors LLP in Leeds; and David Jevons was advised by Andrew Francey of Leeds and Sheffield solicitors Lupton Fawcett LLP.

Gary Wilks, director of British Thornton, said: “We have enjoyed a 14 year relationship with The Co-operative Bank, working closely with them since 1996 when we undertook a management buyout which was supported by the bank.  It is good news that their continued backing means that my co-director, Stuart Little, and I can take the company forward and secure our strong position in this niche, growing market.”

David Whitehouse, corporate relationship manager for The Co-operative Bank, said: “British Thornton is a long-established and solid Yorkshire business and we are delighted to be able to support the directors.  They benefit from long experience and operate within a market where there is still considerable potential for growth.

“We are pleased to once again be working with local professionals to bring about a positive outcome for one of the region’s oldest businesses.”

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For further press information, please contact:

Susan Reid on (01423) 56 99 99 or susan@appealpr.com