Anthony Ullmann acquires Shackletons for undisclosed sum

Yorkshire entrepreneur Anthony Ullmann has acquired furniture firm Shackletons for an undisclosed sum.

Shackletons, Dewsbury. (d07121002)

Mr Ullmann, the co-founder of Autofil Worldwide, will take ownership of the Dewsbury-based furniture manufacturer that has been putting comfort into care for over half a century.

The deal will see him become Chairman and Chief Executive of Shackletons, which specialises in the manufacture of chairs and occasional furniture for the healthcare, hospitality and retail markets.

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Mr Ullmann previously co-founded Autofil Worldwide, the manufacturer of technically engineered yarns for the global automotive industry which, at its peak, employed more than 200 staff at a state-of-the-art textile R&D and production plant in Nottinghamshire. It had annual sales of £45 million. He and his business partner sold the company to an Italian conglomerate in 2012 and Mr Ullmann finally ended his relationship with Autofil last year.

He said: “Since ending my 23 year association with Autofil Worldwide I have been looking at a range of other opportunities, and in Shackletons I have found a renowned business built on solid traditions of quality craftsmanship from a talented and loyal workforce and excellent products and which I firmly believe has great potential for growth over the coming years.

“We aim to be a business that is proud of its famous heritage but one which is firmly focussed on the future with a design-led, customer-focussed approach that will produce high quality products and matching customer service standards to both contract and retail customers.”

Mr Ullmann acquired the company from Managing Director Martyn Higgins who will remain with the business to support the management and sales team.

New members of the Board include Chief Operating Officer and Finance Director Andrew Allwood FCA, previously with PWC, ABI Caravans and Capita. Dave Allanson, formerly North West Regional Director of Lloyds Bank Corporate Markets, also joins the Board as a Non-Executive Director.

Sarah Thompson will continue to take a leading role in working on direct sales and supporting the regional sales managers.

Mr Ullmann added: “I have spent a lifetime in textiles, manufacturing and the supply chain to an exacting client base and I believe that my previous experiences within the demanding automotive sector demonstrate that success is built on first class, design-led products and outstanding customer service. This approach can only help enhance operations at Shackletons so that our customers are not only delighted by our products but also by the service they receive.”

Shackletons currently employs around 70 people at its Dewsbury plant. The company is aiming to increase sales by growing its healthcare, leisure and retail businesses as well as exploring additional opportunities for new sales channels.

Mr Ullmann was advised on the transaction by Richard Moran and Sarah Harrison of Leeds law firm Clarion and David Butterworth of Huddersfield accountants Wheawill and Sudworth.

Mr Higgins was advised by Michael Crook of Wakefield lawyers Crooks Commercial Solicitors and Nigel Bullas of accountants BHP Clough.