Endless backs MBO at UK's Premier Robotics Specialist

Endless LLP, the Leeds-based private equity house, has backed the management buyout at leading robotics specialist Sewtec Automation, one of Yorkshire’s most successful and high-tech engineering companies.

The £22m-turnover business designs and engineers automated manufacturing and packaging systems for a customer base of global blue chip companies.

They rely on the team of 70 engineers to solve complex production and packaging challenges and meet the constantly changing demands of consumers and regulators around the world.

Sewtec is a market leader in its field and serves sectors including confectionery, food, pharmaceutical, personal care and tobacco. Exports make up 85 per cent of its sales.

It started life at the end of the 19th century as the design and development department of the Singer Corporation, the historic manufacturer of sewing machines.

By investing in research and development and attracting, training and retaining some of the best engineering minds in the industry, Sewtec is very well placed to capitalise on the trend of increased automation in manufacturing.

Andrew Ross, Director at Endless, said: “For a business of its size and location, Sewtec has an impressive list of multinational customers which trust and respect its team of highly skilled engineers to come up with innovative solutions to some very difficult problems.

“It is an inspirational Yorkshire success story and as a private equity house with headquarters in Yorkshire we are delighted to be supporting the management team at Sewtec with the next stage of its development.”

The management team of Gary Day, Karl Conqueror and Paul Johnson led the buyout with the backing of Endless to help the business grow and expand into new markets.

Paul Johnson, sales director, said: “We are delighted to be working with Endless and look forward to an exciting future together.

“We have developed together a sustainable growth strategy that will allow the business to flourish further, while making sure that our employees remain engaged, satisfied and aligned with our vision.

“Working with Endless ensures the business can operate in the future with the financial security that it has enjoyed in the past.”

The vendor Bernard Meehan, the driving force behind the growth and development of Sewtec over the last two decades, will remain as consultant. He chose Endless over a number of other potential backers.

Mr Meehan said: “I met with the Endless team in Leeds and was impressed with their friendly and efficient approach.

“I am confident Sewtec is in safe hands. The fact that big multinationals from all over the world are coming to Ravensthorpe in Dewsbury to solve their problems is something I am very proud of.”

Examples of projects recently undertaken by Sewtec:

  • A household name in personal care products faced some challenges around the operation and obsolescence of one of its manufacturing processes. Sewtec, working with the customer, developed a laser-etching alternative, which resolved the issues, increased productivity and reduced labour costs
  • A global healthcare business needed to create a more convenient method of self-testing for patients with long-term conditions. Sewtec designed and developed highly sophisticated machines capable of manufacturing biomedical sensors to implant under the skin
  • A consumer products multi-national had to demonstrate that it could track and trace goods from production through packaging and into cross-border logistics to combat counterfeiters. Sewtec engineered a system to provide a unique identification for each and every item.

Endless was advised on the acquisition by law firm Squire Patton Boggs and the tax team at KPMG.

The sale side advisors were Mazars Corporate Finance and law firm Gordons.