Small wonders move on to bigger things

Pictured at the time of the recent buy-out: John Longstaff (BHP Corporate Finance), Craig Syson (IFA), Andy McGuinness (IFA), Matthew Chenery (Barclays Corporate), Gareth Davies (IFA), Neil Thompson (Hill Dickinson), Martin Burnham (IFA), Kevin Davies (BHP Corporate Finance), David Forrest (BHP Corporate Finance)
Pictured at the time of the recent buy-out: John Longstaff (BHP Corporate Finance), Craig Syson (IFA), Andy McGuinness (IFA), Matthew Chenery (Barclays Corporate), Gareth Davies (IFA), Neil Thompson (Hill Dickinson), Martin Burnham (IFA), Kevin Davies (BHP Corporate Finance), David Forrest (BHP Corporate Finance)
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Five companies, including last year’s table topper and four of last year’s newcomers have left The Star/Barber Harrison & Platt Top 100 SMEs listings after growing too big to be considered a Small and Medium Sized Enterprise any more.

Animal by-products processor JG Pears joined the listing in second place in 2009 and became the Sheffield City Region and the city’s most profitable SME last year after boosting profits by 13 per cent from £6million to £6.8million, but has moved on after exceeding the turnover and assets criteria this year.

Doncaster-based Kaye Aluminium, Smith Bros (Caer Conan)Wholesale and M Higgins also beat the turnover and assets criteria, while Barnsley-based R&M Swaine – which owns the Rhythm & Booze off licence chain – also beat the third criteria, based on the number of people the business employs.

Kaye Aluminium is one of the UK’s leading independent aluminium extrusion companies and part of the Exlabesa Group, a privately family-run business, based in Galicia, Spain.

Electrical distributor Smith Bros (Caer Conan) only became an SME again last year after seeing its business shrink while Finningley-based M Higgins, one of the most successful and respected independent potato supply organisations in Europe, has seen its growth continue.

R&M Swaine’s Rhythm & Booze business more than doubled in size, after buying 34 stores from the administrators of failed off-licence operator First Quench in December 2009, with the assistance of BHP Corporate Finance.

As predicted in last year’s Top 100 SMEs, the acquisition of the stores from First Quench, which traded under the Threshers, Wine Rack and The Local brands made R&M Swaine too big to be considered for this year’s Top 100. Meanwhile, eight companies, including H Turner & Son, Huthwaite International (2001) and IFA Holdings, have left the listing after making losses and a further 13 saw profits fall far enough to drop out of the Top 100.

Sheffield-based IFA has left the Top SMEs listing after five years, during which it was once the Sheffield City Region’s 11th most profitable company.

IFA was established in 2001, when the open die forging division of Doncasters was acquired for £2 million. Since then, the Livesey Street firm, which lays claim to being the world’s biggest blacksmith, has invested more than £16 million in expanding its capabilities, boosting turnover from £2.6 million to £17 million and quadrupling the number of people it employs to 120.

Management recently increased its stake in the firm by staging a new buyout, arranged with the assistance of Sheffield-based BHP Corporate Finance and the Sheffield office of law firm Hill Dickinson, and backed by Barclays Corporate.

The deal saw investment group YFM Equity Partners dispose of its minority stake and chairman Martin Burnham, who led the original buy out, substantially reduce his shareholding, while retaining his position as chairman.

Speaking in September, at the time of the latest deal, managing director Andy McGuinness said it laid the foundation for further growth at IFA.

“We have come out of our industry recession stronger, leaner and now we can continue to go from strength to strength,” said Mr McGuinness

“With all the doom and gloom in the financial sector it is reassuring that there is still confidence in UK manufacturing to support this MBO, and why shouldn’t there be?”