Hexcite Group business SFD in administration

Richard Stuart-Turner
Thursday, November 14, 2019

One of the three businesses brought together by a UK private equity fund to form the Hexcite Group earlier this year has gone into administration.

Chris Pole and David Pike of KPMG were appointed as joint administrators of Shopfittings Direct Limited (SFD) on 4 November.

The Watford-based business, which specialises in the sale of mannequins, designing shop interiors and the design of window and visual merchandising in the retail sector, was acquired by private equity fund Elaghmore in June.

This quickly followed its May acquisition of wide-format printer Gardners, with the two businesses subsequently rolled into the newly formed Hexcite Group in September along with another Elaghmore-owned business, display manufacturer Kesslers.

But Pole said SFD “had been unable to secure vital funding to keep the business operational” after a poor period of trading, and “directors had no option but to place the company into administration”.

He added: “We are currently working to complete customer contracts to provide continuity and are undertaking an accelerated sale process to market the business and assets for sale.”

SFD operates from its head office in Watford, a mannequin showroom in Queens Park, London, and a visual merchandising workshop in Old Dalby, Leicestershire. 42 of its 60 staff were made redundant on the appointment of the administrators while the remainder are being retained to assist with the wind-down of the business.

In its most recently filed accounts, for the 15-month period tracking 1 October 2016 to 31 December 2017, SFD recorded a turnover of £31.5m, on a pre-tax loss of £2.94m.

When it acquired the business in June, Elaghmore planned for SFD to continue to operate autonomously but to work closely with Gardners, which designs and manufacturers large-format visual displays, as well as Kesslers, which designs and manufactures digital and physical in-store displays.

An Elaghmore spokesperson told Printweek: “Unfortunately, following the acquisition of SFD earlier this year, trading has been considerably worse than had been anticipated.

“The board of SFD made the difficult decision to put the business into administration. The rest of the Hexcite Group – Gardners and Kesslers – is unaffected. Both businesses are performing strongly and will continue to get our support and investment.”

Hexcite Group is headed up by chief executive Matthew Frost, who joined in June from management roles at brands such as Asda and Waitrose. The group’s printing facilities are almost exclusively based at Gardners’ 7,400sqm site, although Kesslers also has some capabilities in flatbed and roll-to-roll printing at its visual branch in Leicester.

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