Two Sheffield firms sell parts of their operations

TWO leading Sheffield firms have sold off significant parts of their operations.

SIG, the Sheffield-based leading European supplier of insulation, interiors, exteriors and specialist construction products, has disposed of its loss-making Interiors Manufacturing business for £14 million.

Meanwhile, Dyson, the Sheffield-based high-tech materials business, has sold its core Saffil business to US company Unifrax for an undisclosed sum.

SIG says the disposal to the Midlands-based Laidlaw Interiors Group was part of its strategy to rebalance its operations in favour of residential markets and the proceeds of the sale will be used to reduce the Sheffield Business Park-based group’s net debt.

SIG Interiors Manufacturing has subsidiaries in the South and the Midlands which design and make doorsets, partitions, washrooms and glazing products for the non-residential market. It had assets of around £41.8 million and made a pre-tax loss of £49.2 million last year.

SIG chief executive Chris Davies said: “This divestment, together with the recent disposals of our scaffolding and safety and workwear businesses, enables us to better focus on our core distribution and merchanting operations and helps to rebalance the group’s exposure further towards residential markets.”

Dyson’s former Saffil subsidary is based in Widnes and makes innovative, high-temperature polycrystalline wool materials which are used in catalytic converters.

The business was hit by the downturn in the automotive industry but Dyson Group chairman Julian Cooper believes that the sale to Unifrax, a leading global supplier of insulation products that are used in many high-temperature industrial, automotive and fire protection applications, will be good for Saffil’s 300 employees.

“Unifrax will be a great parent for the Saffil business,” said Mr Cooper.

“Unifrax is prepared to make the investments necessary to secure the long-term future of the business. These would have been difficult for Dyson to make.

“We are confident the sale of the business to Unifrax provides Dyson shareholders fair value while securing a bright future for Saffil employees.”

Catherine Simister, from Dyson’s legal advisers, DLA Piper, said the sale of Saffil had been made possible by the high-profile restructuring of Dyson in 2010 and was a complex international transaction, drawing on the skills of DLA Piper staff in Yorkshire, and elsewhere in the UK, US, South Africa, Japan and Europe.

Teams from law firm Irwin Mitchell in Yorkshire gave pensions, corporate and banking advice to the trustees of the Saffil Pension Scheme and the Dyson Group Pension Fund.