Ninth generation Potteries business turns to venture capital

The Business Growth Fund has closed a deal at the smaller end of its investment remit by injecting £3 million into manufacturing company Dudson.

Stoke-on-Trent-headquartered Dudson has secured the funds it needs to invest in more efficient manufacturing equipment as well as boosting sales and marketing.

Stepping in as an equity supporter is the £2.5 billion bank-backed Business Growth Fund (BGF), a fund that has now invested in 52 companies across 18 sectors.

Founded two hundred years ago, Dudson serves as a ceramic tableware producer aimed at the travel and hospitality industry. The business is now under the management of Max and Mark Dudson, and turns over £30 million from staff numbers of 500.

The deal has been structured on a long-term capital basis so that Dudson can invest in the business whilst also ‘retaining the flexibility’ to transition to the next generation.

Max Dudson, CEO of the business, comments, ‘Having been through a restructure we have a clearly identified strategy for growth which requires capital investment to deliver improvements in manufacturing efficiency, new machinery to support our growing product categories and further investment so support the expansion of our sales, marketing and design teams to exploit new and developing market opportunities.’

Dudson currently has factories in Stoke-on-Trent and Digoin, France, a manufacturing facility which it bought in 2009. The company also owns a stake in local materials supplier Furlong Mills.

As part of the £3 million deal, BGF investment director Ian Downing is joining the company board.

More on recent BGF deals:

Downing believes that Dudson has an ‘impressive’ 200-year track record and has secured itself a strong market position in the international hospitality tableware market.

‘It is a great example of a British manufacturing business that has invested heavily in product and process innovation and successfully taken its products into an international marketplace,’ he adds.

‘The company’s board has now identified a clear strategy to develop and grow the business, with the objective of being able to pass on a larger, stronger organisation to future generations.’

The BGF has now closed seven deals during 2014 involving companies in the cycling, oil and gas and formalwear sectors. Since beginning to invest in 2011, the fund has provided £290 million to growing businesses in the UK.

Hunter Ruthven

Bernard Williamson

Hunter was the Editor for from 2012 to 2014, before moving on to Caspian Media Ltd to be Editor of Real Business.

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