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£1.5m investment saves one of the UK’s oldest leather manufacturers


Three family businesses across Europe have joined forces to save J&E Sedgwick & Co., one of the UK’s oldest leather manufacturers.

The consortium is made up of Cheshire based Abbey England, renowned provider of saddlery and associated goods to the equestrian market, Kilger, a German tannery which has supplied Sedgwick with leather for 20 years, and Crawford Leather Company, a UK and Irish hide and skin processing company with long tradition of delivering bespoke, high quality, heavy leathers into the vegetable tanning trade.

Following Sedgwick & Co.’s threatened closure as it was taken into administration in early October, the consortium together invested £1.5m to save the business, protecting 60 per cent of the firm’s jobs and maintaining its manufacturing strength to protect its current order book.

Abbey England led the consortium, with the team keen to prevent the company from being wound up altogether, given its heavy reliance on the high quality leather that Sedgwick & Co. provides for its own saddlery business.

Richard Brown, Managing Director at Abbey England, said, “It was imperative that we found a way to save what is one of Britain’s most prestigious leather companies. Its leather is an integral component of the high quality products we, as a consortium are well-known for producing within the equestrian sector and beyond.”

Challenging trading conditions and declining exchange rates had led to the company being taken into administration last month. However, the combination of expertise and synergy between the three family businesses making up the consortium made them the ideal buyers for the company. The combined forces not only rescues Sedgwick & Co. but also secures the current and future supply chain.

Richard added, “I’m confident that the combination of the complementary skills and capabilities inherent in these three businesses will result in the continued manufacturer of high quality leather products to some the world’s most respected brands. We know that Sedgwick & Co.’s esteemed customer, Aston Martin, would not consider looking elsewhere given the quality of leather required for its interiors – and it is this superiority of manufacturer that we are so proud to have saved for the future of leather production.”

Robin Coleman designs bespoke accessories for Aston Martin and has been a customer of Sedgwick & Co. for almost 40 years. “We have always worked very closely with Sedgwick & Co. to source our leather as the quality is unbeatable and the consistency is superior to any other supplier,” said Robin. “We’re delighted that Richard has led this consortium to rescue the business. Had Sedgwick & Co. gone into administration, it would have totally disrupted our business and would have meant weeks and weeks of sourcing an alternative supplier.”

Abbey England, Kilger and Crawford Leather Company will formally take over the running of Sedgwick & Co. later this month with the day to day running of the business falling to Phil Bevington, works manager and Mark Abraham, production manager.

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