Thompsons merchants acquired for £3.8m by Grafton group

The Grafton Group has taken over Wearside builders' merchant Thompson for £3.3m it was revealed yesterday

Wearside builders’ merchant Thompsons, which collapsed into administration owing creditors more than £10m earlier this year, was acquired by its new owner for €3.8m (£3.3m), it was yesterday revealed.

Through its Grafton Merchanting GB subsidiary, Grafton Group took over the four existing branches of Thompson Building Centres, located in Sunderland, Durham, Newcastle and Gateshead, as well as a site in South Shields, which was closed prior to administration.

The details of the deal were revealed within Grafton Group’s interim results for the six months ended June 30, 2013.

During the period, the group - which is headquartered in Dublin and has operations throughout the UK, Ireland and Belgium - upped pre-tax profit by 284 per cent to €60.5m (£52m) on revenues which edged up from €1.055bn (£907m) to €1.072bn (£922m).

In a report accompanying the recent results, Grafton confirmed it had acquired the trade and selected assets of both Thompsons’ Building Centres and Thompson Associated Plumbing Supplies.

“The acquisition extended the geographic coverage of the Group’s UK merchanting business into the North East of England where the business trades from five builders merchanting branches,” the report said.

“The total acquisition consideration was cash of £3.835m and the fair value of the net assets acquired was £3.834m consisting largely of property, plant and equipment.”

The Thompson name had been trading since 1955 from a head office in Hendon, Sunderland, and for some time the business appeared to be weathering the storm of the construction industry downturn that had hit many similar firms.

In 2011, revenues rose £2.8m to £16.6m and Thompsons even began to increase the size of its workforce.

However, a series of losses eventually caught up with the company and although managing director Anne Ganley hoped to save it through a Company Voluntary Arrangement (CVA) with creditors, she found herself under pressure from banks and trade credit insurance.

In February, A Thompson & Sons was served with winding-up petitions from a supplier and HM Revenue & Customs.

Administrators from KPMG were then appointed on March 5, with the ultimate result of 80 job losses, while 20 members of staff stayed on to assist the sale of the business and its assets.

Grafton Group chief executive, Gavin Slark, said of his group’s performance: “The group continues to make good progress following several years of challenging conditions and the measures we have undertaken to reduce overheads, strengthen gross margins and improve profitability have provided the business with a strong platform from which to build.”

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