Ninth generation family business partners with BGF

Investment news

BGF has invested £3m in Dudson, one of the UK’s oldest family-owned businesses that produces ceramic tableware for the travel and hospitality industry. Operating since 1800, Dudson is currently under the stewardship of 8th generation family members Ian, Max and Mark Dudson who act as Non-Executive Chairman, CEO and Group Operations Director respectively. The 9th generation is already represented by Ian’s daughter, Katie, who is the company’s Marketing Manager. The business is headquartered in Stoke-on-Trent and employs over 500 people, with turnover approaching £30m.

Dudson supplies the travel and hospitality industry with high quality durable tableware, which it manufactures at its factories in Stoke-on-Trent and Digoin, France. Dudson acquired its fully automated French manufacturing facility in 2009 and also owns a stake in Furlong Mills, a Stoke-on-Trent clay materials supplier. It sells to customers globally from its six international commercial centres, as well as through a range of distributors and agents in countries throughout the world. Customers include Virgin Rail, Pizza Hut, Virgin Atlantic, Nandos, Princess Cruises, Hilton & Hyatt Hotels.

BGF has provided £3m of long term capital to allow the family to invest in the business, whilst retaining the flexibility to pass the company onto the next generation. The funding will enable Dudson to invest in more efficient manufacturing equipment, streamline production processes at its manufacturing facilities and enhance its sales and marketing capabilities.

Ian Downing, Investment Director at BGF who joined the company’s board, commented: “Dudson has an impressive 200-year track record and has carved out a strong niche position in the international market for hospitality tableware. It is a great example of a British manufacturing business that has invested heavily in product and process innovation and successfully taken it products into an international marketplace.

“The company’s board has now identified a clear strategy to develop and grow the business, with the objective of being able to pass on a larger, stronger organisation to future generations. We look forward to bringing both financial and strategic support to the table and to working with the team to deliver on their ambitions.”

Max Dudson, CEO of the company said: “Having been through a restructure we have a clearly identified strategy for growth which requires capital investment to deliver improvements in manufacturing efficiency, new machinery to support growing product categories and further investment to support the expansion of our sales, marketing and design teams to exploit new and developing market opportunities. We were keen to find a partner who had the foresight to invest in our strategy as a supportive partner who could add commercial value to our business as well as inject required capital. BGF’s modus operandi of providing unsecured capital and allowing the incumbent board of directors to retain full control of the business, coupled with their long term perspective, makes this a perfect partnership for Dudson, allowing us to deliver our strategy for growth.”

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