US firm takes over 110-year-old Sheffield knife manufacturer

A knife manufacturer established in Sheffield more than a century ago has been bought out by US investors.

Thursday, 17th May 2018, 12:28 pm
Updated Friday, 18th May 2018, 24:06 am
Wolstenholme Machine Knives - part of TGW - in Sheffield. Picture: Dean Atkins

TGW - founded in 1908 as T G Wolstenholme & Sons - has a factory on Downgate Drive, Brightside as well as facilities in the US and India, making specialist blades for the food processing, packaging, printing and tobacco industries.

New York-based private equity firm Blue Wolf has taken control of the business - now known in Sheffield as Wolstenholme Machine Knives - by acquiring a majority stake.

Wolstenholme Machine Knives - part of TGW - in Sheffield. Picture: Dean Atkins

Financial terms have not been disclosed, but last year the parent company TGW Holdings had an annual turnover of more than £17 million.

The company is recognised as a global leader in its field. In 1993, the company established TGW International to expand its business to North American markets; then, in 2011, a 25,000 sq ft manufacturing centre was opened in Indore, India. Today the group employs 160 people globally. Its US offices are in Wilder, Kentucky and Chicago, Illinois.

CEO and chairman Richard Wolstenholme, great-great grandson of the founder Thomas Gilbert Wolstenholme, and North American boss Jeff Litmer, will hand over to the existing management team, led by Steve Corbett in the UK and Tim White in the US.

Michael Ranson, partner at Blue Wolf, said: "Few companies have accomplished more and created a stronger brand within the industrial knives manufacturing space than TGW. We look forward to working with the team to build on the company's legacy and continue to grow the business."

The company had 'exceptional leadership' and 'dedicated employees', added Rick Tattersfield, the investor's operating partner.

Mr Corbett said: "TGW is excited to embark on this next chapter in our long, storied history and think Blue Wolf will be a great partner in this. We are fortunate enough to have many growth opportunities in our future, and Blue Wolf shares our vision of continuing to grow and evolve as a company. With this new partnership we will continue investing in new products and providing excellent service to our valued customers."

It is believed T G Wolstenholme approached the owner of Sheffield's Tyzack Machine Knives - then the largest knife-maker in the UK - in 1908 with the proposal: "I want to run my own business, but I'd still like to work with you."

Mr Tyzack offered to help on the condition he would be Wolstenholme's only customer, an arrangement understood to have continued until just after the First World War.