J E Wilson & Sons (Kendal) Limited (“Wilsons”)

Business rescue and recovery specialists Dow Schofield Watts Business Recovery LLP (“DSW”) have helped secure 121 jobs at a Cumbria based chocolate makers after assisting in finding a buyer for the business.

Creative Confectionery (Holme) Limited (“Creative”), acquired the business and assets of Wilsons from the Joint Administrators on Friday 22nd May for an undisclosed sum. The sale followed the appointment of John Carpenter and Ben Barrett, partners in DSW as Joint Administrators that afternoon. Creative was part funded by a third party investor introduced to the company after an exhaustive investment, sales and marketing process run by DSW.

Wilsons, based just outside Holme, was established in 1913 as one of the original makers of Kendal mint-cake, by the grandfather of current Managing Director – Andrew Wilson. The business developed into one of the UKs leading manufacturers of chocolates for high street retail customers in the UK, and beyond.

A costly relocation to a modern purpose built site in 2013 saw the company undergo a period of transition, which resulted in financial uncertainty.

Andrew Wilson commented: “I’m delighted to have secured the jobs of so many hardworking and committed people, and to have preserved the future of a 3rd generation family firm. Our new partners have exceptional experience in the food industry, and have made a huge success of all that they do. We can learn a lot from them as our business develops.

The DSW team have been superb at every step of the way and have assisted in the difficult process of identifying and meeting investors, buyers and joint venture partners over a very trying few weeks. When our backs have been against the wall, we’ve been able to rely on their advice, no matter what time of day or night involved. Without them I have no doubt that this transaction may not have completed.

The support of Bibby Invoice Finance Limited (“Bibby”) has been integral to all that has been achieved, Dan Burton & Chris Farnworth of Bibby have been tremendous partners for our business, now and in the future.”

John Carpenter of DSW said: “We are pleased to have successfully concluded a sale of this long standing business after what has been a difficult time for the Company’s management and its workforce. We wish the new owners and staff the very best for the future.”

Chris Farnworth, Corporate Manager at Bibby Financial Services, said: “Wilsons is a fantastic family-run business with a long history. We saw that this business needed help to get it through a difficult transitional period and recognised the raft of customers who relied upon its supply of the very best chocolates. We worked with Wilsons to deliver an adaptable funding structure to help stabilise the business and ensure that this quintessentially British business and maker of the famous Kendal mint-cake lives on.”

DSW were advised by Mark Lund and Laura Baker at Turner Parkinson Solicitors; Wilsons were advised by Oglethorpe Storton & Gillibrand LLP, Bibby were advised by Bermans Solicitors.