A West Midlands furniture company which completed a management buyout shortly before the Christie-Tyler Group collapsed into receivership has a bright future, it was claimed yesterday.
Ultra Furniture, based in Kingswinford, has sales of over £15 million a year, selling sofas and allied products to the major furniture retailers and the independent sector.
A total of 220 jobs were saved when the transaction went through just days before the failure.
The buy-out was led by Paul Whitelocks, managing director of Ultra and four other members of the company's executive team.
Mr Whitelocks and his colleagues approached Peter Smith at SMS Advisory in Cardiff, a former corporate finance partner at KPMG and a previous group finance director at Christie- Tyler, to help them.
"We assembled and led a team of advisers that understood the industry and appreciated the delicacy and the urgency of the situation that the Christie-Tyler Group found itself in," said Mr Smith.
They had just two months to get it sorted.
Andrew Bound at Berry Smith provided legal assistance and Barclays Corporate was selected as the primary provider of funding.
Capital was also injected by the management team.
And after frantic negotiations the deal hit its deadline, going through on July 1.
Mr Whitelocks said: " Ultra Furniture is a strong business with an excellent customer base and strong order book.
"Its strategy of supplying value for money product, quick to market with high quality build and design, has proved highly successful in a depressed market."
He said the firm had seen a stream of new orders since the MBO.
"We are delighted with the turn around of fortunes in such a short space of time. The order book is looking fruitful which is an encouraging sign." Martin Griffiths, relationship director at Barclays Corporate, said: "Barclays quickly formed the opinion that Ultra Furniture had a strong business model led by an experienced and capable management team.
"Ultra Furniture demonstrated a strong design capability, a tight cost base and outstanding levels of responsiveness and service to its customers. These qualities will provide a platform for future growth and support the company against the increasing threat from imported competition."
More than 200 further jobs were saved when two Kidderminster companies in the group were also bought out by their managements.
Wyvern Furniture and its distribution company Earlybird Furniture were acquired in a deal led led by managing director Len Hughes, along with finance director Keith Williams, design director Richard Thatcher and operation and production director Simon Townsend.
The £16 million turnover operation employed 233 workers at the two factories.
Bridgend-based Christie-Tyler collapsed as a result of what receivers Ernst & Young described as tough international competition and weaker domestic retail trading conditions.