RMT support helps timber agent secure sale

December 11, 2012

RMT ACCOUNTANTS’ SUPPORT HELPS NEWCASTLE TIMBER AGENT SECURE SUCCESSFUL COMPANY SALE

The head of a long-standing north east timber business has praised the support he received from RMT Accountants & Business Advisors in completing the sale of his century-old firm to a German industry peer.

Ian Robinson, chairman and managing director of Newcastle-based timber agent Gill & Robinson, has sold the family business to Kullik & Rullmann AG after completing an exhaustive 18 month-long search to find the right buyer.

Ian is staying on as managing director of Gill & Robinson, and will work closely with Kullik & Rullmann’s management team and its UK sales team to increase its domestic and overseas sales.

He is keen to recognise RMT’s strong contribution to securing completion of the deal, which he believes might not have gone ahead without their involvement.

Originally founded in Newcastle in 1889 and still headquartered in the city, Gill & Robinson is the country’s leading privately-owned softwood timber agent, and works with customers all over the UK and Ireland via its sales offices in Rochester, Frodsham and Bradford.

It has traditionally sourced its timber from Sweden, Finland and Norway, but now also obtains products from major firms in a number of other countries, including Latvia, Estonia, Germany, Russia, Chile and Portugal.

The company deals with a wide range of customers, but has in recent years sold a growing volume of products to importing manufacturers and larger end users, such as producers of caravan and bedding components, slating battens, scaffold boards and decking.

Ian Robinson’s great uncle Frank Leake and father James Robinson both served on the company’s board for several decades between them from 1923 onwards, with Ian joining the firm in 1971 and working his way up to become managing director in 1986.

He says: “Having worked with many of our customers, suppliers and staff for a very long time, I knew I wanted to find a very particular type of buyer, one that would not only maintain the important relationships that had built up between us all over time, but one that would also drive the company forward into a new era.

“We looked at a number of different options over an 18-month period, but I was especially impressed by the dynamism and energy of the Kullik & Rullmann management team, and also recognised the clear synergies between our two operations.

“There’s a lot of work to be done around the integration of the two firms’ operations, but I’m very excited to be part of making it happen, and about the commercial opportunities that bringing our operations together will open up, which will take us a huge step along the road towards being a ‘one stop shop’ for all our customers.”

RMT has acted for Gill & Robinson for more than 20 years on its tax and commercial activities, and worked with Ian Robinson throughout the process of finding a buyer for the business.

He continues: “RMT’s support throughout the whole sale process has been invaluable, and it’s no exaggeration to say that without their persistence and tenacity, the deal might well not have happened.

“There were a number of hurdles to surmount along the way, but the RMT team kept us all focused on what needed to be done, giving the buyers confidence that we would reach an agreement while making sure we also made best use of all the financial instruments available to us.”

Director Maxine Pott, who leads the RMT team that worked on the deal alongside fellow director John Richards, says: “Succession planning can be a complex task, and requires a great deal of detailed consideration and research to find the right route forward for any company, whether for a family firm or otherwise.

“Ian took a far-sighted approach to what he wanted to achieve for both himself and his colleagues, customers and suppliers.  We’re extremely pleased to have helped secure the deal he was looking for with another family business that brings the same honesty and integrity to its operations that he always has.”

The Newcastle office of Top 100 UK law firm Ward Hadaway provided legal advice to Ian and his family on the deal.

Corporate finance partner Robert Thompson led the firm’s team advising on the transaction, with support from Ward Hadaway’s specialist property and banking teams.

Robert said: “With Gill & Robinson being very much a family business, it was important that we provided the right kind of advice to ensure the continuing success of the company.

“Our extensive experience working with family-owned businesses put us in a great position to advise on getting the right deal for the future of Gill & Robinson and for the people behind its success.”

RMT provides the full range of financial and business advisory services through its Corporate Finance, Recovery & Insolvency, Medical and Specialist Tax divisions.  For more information, please visit www.r-m-t.co.uk

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