Consortium steps in to safeguard future of Axminster Carpets

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historic carpet maker Axminster, supplier to the likes of Chatsworth and Clarence House, has been saved by a consortium of businesses.

A group backed by Stephen Boyd, who chairs leather firm Pittards, and other unnamed parties bought the 258-year-old 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, and 100 jobs.

The rescue was also backed by Centric Commercial Finance, which helps fund small businesses and has an office in Leeds, but no price was disclosed. Former managing director Josh Dutfield will head the company.

Mr Dutfield 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 company traces its roots back to 1755 when Thomas Whitty began making carpets in Axminster.

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. It is a great result to secure the continuance for such an iconic name.”

Barely £970m worth of carpets were sold in Britain last year, a fall of 24 per cent over the last six years.