A relatively cordial management buyout of one of the largest distribution firms in the West Midlands has been agreed – as all 13 of the interested parties were from the same family.
James Lister & Sons was founded as a hardware and ironmongery shop in 1874 and has been taken over by James Lister’s great-great-grandsons Tim, Richard and Mike Cotterill.
The brothers had previously owned 35 per cent of the company, which has 12 bases across the West Midlands including its headquarters and national distribution centre in Smethwick, but have now taken over the remaining 65 per cent.
They are now changing the firm’s trading name to Lister and have brought in the company’s first-ever shareholder from outside the family in its 136-year history – Peter Davies, formerly of electrical distribution firm Hager, who becomes the firm’s new chief executive.
Tim, aged 46, said operating as a family business has served the company well, but Mr Davies would help with growth plans.
He said: “You can see what we have done as a family but with a new board coming in we decided to get some help from outside.
“The three of us first bought the shareholding and it was a big decision to bring someone in from outside.
“Peter is the first non-family member to be allowed in.”
Tim said he and Richard, aged 49, and 40-year-old Mike had big plans to grow sales at the company, which last year recorded a turnover of more than £14 million and has 150 employees.
The trio are the fifth generation of their family – their mother, Barbara Lister, grandfather John-Paul Lister, great-grandfather John Lister all followed in the footsteps of founder great-great-grandfather James Lister.
The firm sells products like tools and lubricants to a wide range of customers, from small scale manufacturers and local authorities to the Ministry of Defence and bluechip companies.
And while the company suffered alongside the region’s manufacturing sector during the recession, Tim said there were signs of improvement.
He said: “Business across the market continues to improve day by day, although we have not yet returned to the levels enjoyed in 2008, and plans are afoot for us to expand our operations in the near future, which will include a rebrand and the launch of our new website very shortly.”
The MBO was completed with the support of the Birmingham office of the company’s new auditor Chantrey Vellacott DFK.
Nick Simkins, a partner at Chantrey Vellacott DFK, said: “This is a great story for the West Midlands and shows business confidence is returning in the region.
“Tim, Richard and Mike have spent all their working lives helping build up the company over the last 30 years and I’m certain Lister will be in safe hands with the three of them and Peter at the helm.”
Along with its main distribution centre and headquarters in Smethwick, Lister also has trade counters in Aldridge, Bilston, Birmingham, Brierley Hill, Great Bridge, Redditch, Telford, Wolverhampton, West Bromwich and also in Abergavenny in South Wales.