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Business plays a pivotal role to save firm

A Cheshire business has played a pivotal role in helping to save one of the UK’s oldest leather manufacturers.

Knutsford-based Abbey England has led a consortium of three family businesses across Europe who have stepped in to rescue Sedgwick & Co.

Abbey England, a provider of saddlery and associated goods to the equestrian market, has linked up with Kilger, a German tannery which has supplied Sedgwick with leather for 20 years, and Crawford Leather Company, a UK and Irish hide and skin processing company. 

Sedgwick & Co was facing closure as it was taken into administration in October, until the consortium together invested £1.5 million to save the business.

The deal protects 60% of the firm’s jobs and maintains its manufacturing strength to protect its current order book.

Abbey England led the consortium, saying it was keen to prevent the company being wound up altogether, given its heavy reliance on the high quality leather that Sedgwick & Co provides for its own saddlery business.

Richard Brown, managing director at Abbey England, said: “It was imperative that we found a way to save what is one of Britain’s most prestigious leather companies.

“Its leather is an integral component of the high quality products we as a consortium are well-known for producing, within the equestrian sector and beyond.”

Challenging trading conditions and declining exchange rates had led to the company being taken into administration.

Richard Brown added: “I’m confident that the combination of the complementary skills and capabilities inherent in these three businesses will result in the continued manufacturer of high quality leather products to some the world’s most respected brands. 

“We know that Sedgwick & Co’s esteemed customer, Aston Martin, would not consider looking elsewhere given the quality of leather required for its interiors – and it is this superiority of manufacturer that we are so proud to have saved for the future of leather production.”

Robin Coleman designs bespoke accessories for Aston Martin and has been a customer of Sedgwick & Co for almost 40 years. He said: “We have always worked very closely with Sedgwick & Co to source our leather as the quality is unbeatable and the consistency is superior to any other supplier. 

“We’re delighted that Richard has led this consortium to rescue the business as had the Sedgwick & Co gone into administration, it would have totally disrupted our business and would have meant weeks and weeks of sourcing an alternative supplier.”

The day-to-day running of the business is now in the hands of works manager Phil Bevington, and production manager Mark Abraham.

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