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Christmas saved for manufacturer on brink of collapse 15 December 2016

Administrators have saved 78 jobs at a Black Country-based company run by five generations of a local family.

Just 24 days before Christmas, administrators from the Restructuring Services division of Mazars, the international professional services firm, saved the positions of employees at H. & E. Knowles (Lye) by selling the business and its assets.

The 78 employees represent the entire workforce of the business, which employs the staff at two sites at Quarry Bank and Cradley, in Dudley. H & E Knowles was founded in the early 1920s and has remained under the control of the founding family for nearly a century.

H & E Knowles was incorporated in 1962 and was managed by Peter Knowles and Daniel Knowles, the fourth and fifth generation of the family.

The company was a long-established metal manufacturer based in the heart of the Black Country.

It manufactured a wide range of products including garden-ware such as wheelbarrows, greenhouses, storage units and incinerators. H & E Knowles struggled financially after some large investments it made became too costly.

The business invested heavily in 2015 in premises and machinery, but it was unable to benefit from that investment and has since incurred losses.

The company cash flow was restricted by the increase in finance costs and the directors were ultimately unable to restructure the company’s operations and working capital requirements.

Simon Chandler and Scott Bevan of Mazars UK LLP were appointed joint administrators of H. & E. Knowles on November 30 2016.

Following their appointment, certain parts of the business and assets have been sold to HE Knowles (Manufacturing) Limited, a new venture owned by Peter and Daniel Knowles.

Simon Chandler, joint administrator and head of Mazars UK Restructuring Services, said: “The closure of the business would have resulted in the redundancy of all employees immediately before the Christmas period. The sale of the business preserves and protects those 78 employees.”

Daniel Knowles said: “We are deeply saddened at the demise of our old family business, both for ourselves and our long standing suppliers. We have tried hard to save the jobs of the entire workforce. We are now looking forward to working together with the existing customers and suppliers to build a better future.”

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