Kesslers sold to acquisitive group

Kesslers began trading in 1888
Kesslers began trading in 1888

Retail display specialist Kesslers International has been sold by its administrators to GB Sign Solutions, part of the acquisitive PFI Group.

The Stratford, East London-based business, part of the Hexcite Group, went into administration last month due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the retail sector and cost inflation.

Michael Lennon and Philip Dakin, both of Kroll, were appointed as its joint administrators and last night (13 January) the pair completed a sale of the business and assets as a going concern to GB Sign Solutions.

The sale includes Kesslers' global visual merchandising services brand Proportion London, which Kesslers acquired in 2020.

Legal advice supporting the joint administrators was provided by Addleshaw Goddard Manchester.

Based in Manchester itself, GB Sign Solutions is a high-specification manufacturer for the signage industry that provides high-quality sign and advertising products to multinationals, small to medium-sized businesses, government authorities, and self-employed enterprises.

Lennon said: “We are absolutely delighted that we have been able to secure the future of the UK’s oldest supplier to the point-of-purchase sector. As a result of the sale, the business and assets of the company will transfer to the new owners. Employees will also be transferred under TUPE regulations.

“This is a superb outcome as it preserves a longstanding business, provides continuity of employment for a number of employees and provides an opportunity of employment for others in the area.”

It was unclear at the time of writing how many of Kesslers’ 160 staff will be TUPE’d over to GB Sign Solutions.

The firm’s parent company PFI Group also comprises PFI Signs, Sign Plus, Lofthus Signs, In2 Signs & Graphics, Shades Graphics, Mardan Products, Futurama Group, Insignia Signs, Creative Digital Images (CDI), SignMaster, Jasmine and Cestrian.

The latter acquisition was the most recent addition to the group in October, and Paul Price was taken on in the same month as the new managing director of both Cestrian and CDI, which PFI acquired last January.

Kesslers began trading in 1888 and is the UK’s oldest POP designer and manufacturer. It provides bespoke POS retail equipment, including design, technical engineering, manufacturing, installation, and post-campaign customer service. Proportion London, meanwhile, designs and manufactures high-quality, innovative displays for high-end and high street brands and museums.

PFI Group CEO Darren McMurray said: “PFI Group are delighted to welcome Kesslers and Proportion London and their teams to the PFI family.

“The Kesslers and Proportion London businesses fit well within the PFI Group’s stable of signage, branding and visual communication companies, further strengthens and diversifies our uniquely comprehensive client solutions offering and represents another significant milestone in the group’s buy and build strategy.”

Kesslers had been turning over £25m at the time it went into administration. Earlier this week Printweek had heard from two law firms on claims that staff affected by Kesslers’ administration had begun the process of taking legal action amid allegations that the business failed to properly consult staff during the redundancy process.