Consortium saves Axminster Carpets

Axminster CarpetsHistoric carpets firm Axminster has been rescued by a local consortium, saving its remaining 100 jobs.

A consortium backed by Stephen Boyd, a local businessman who chairs leather firm Pittards, and other unnamed parties bought the business as a going concern from administrators Duff & Phelps.

The Devon-based business plunged into administration in March, with the loss of 300 jobs, forced under by a sharp increase in raw material prices and the tough economy eroding sales.

The deal saves the company's factory and outlet in Axminster, plus an outlet in Buckfast. The rescue was also backed by Centric Commercial Finance, which helps fund small businesses, but no price was disclosed.

Former managing director Josh Dutfield will head the company. He said: "We have been truly overwhelmed by the support received from the residents of the town of Axminster in our endeavours to secure the future of the business."

The 258-year-old company traces its roots back to 1755 when Thomas Whitty began making carpets in Axminster. It is one of the world's largest makers of Axminster, Wilton and Tufted carpet.

The original Axminster carpet was laid in Brighton Pavilion as well as bought by King George III and Queen Charlotte, who visited the factory. After a fire halted production, carpet manufacturing did not return to the town until 1937. Its plight prompted more than 6,000 people to sign a petition calling for it to be saved.

Joint administrator Benjamin Wiles said: "We are absolutely delighted to be able to announce that we have secured the future of Axminster Carpets, one of the best-known British brands, following the successful sale of the business and assets of the company to Axminster Carpets (2013).

"It is a great result to secure the continuance for such an iconic name. I believe we have secured the best possible outcome for the local region and most importantly the staff."

Administrators sold Axminster's yarn-spinning facility in Buckfast about three weeks ago in a separate deal. Private equity firm Carlyle, which owns carpet manufacturer Brintons, had been linked to a possible deal for the company.