Sell-offs cut debts

Two leading Sheffield groups have sold off significant parts of their operations.

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

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

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SIG says the proceeds of sale to Midlands-based Laidlaw Interiors Group 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.

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

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The business was hit by the downturn in the automotive industry, but Dyson believes the sale to Unifrax will be good for Saffil’s 300 employees.

The deal leaves Dyson with two profitable businesses, making a range of ceramics and foundry products.

The company will use the proceeds of the sale to repay outstanding bank debts and is considering returning some of the proceeds to shareholders.

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.

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

A simple child’s toy helped Ruth Amos come up with one of the best manufacturing ideas of recent times, aged just 15.

Find out what Ruth, now 21, did next in Business Monthly on Wednesday.