A French buyer has swooped for one of Huddersfield’s long-established family-run firms that installs displays at some of Britain's biggest tourist attractions.
The 127-year-old graphic display specialist Leach, based at Bradley , has been sold to French-owned Chargeurs, a global manufacturing and services group with operations in 34 countries across the world.
Leach Impact handles large format graphics for the retail sector and includes major names like Gap, Regatta and Barburrito among its clients. Its other division, Leach Inspire, specialises in creating and installing displays at visitor attractions such as the Titanic Experience, the Victoria and Albert Museum and London’s Sealife Aquarium. Together, the divisions employ 85 people.
Leach’s 100-strong staff have been told that their jobs are safe and that “nothing will change on a day-to-day basis” at the company’s 30,000sq ft headquarters at Bradley Business Park.
Chargeurs has bought both divisions of the company for an undisclosed sum. A third division, Leach Studio will continue to be privately-owned by directors Richard Leach and Jim Parkin.
Leach Studio, which has 15 staff, creates interpretation boards for museums, galleries and heritage sites for clients including the Yorkshire Museum in York, Dudley Zoo, Scarborough Museum Trust and Hever Castle in Kent.
Paris-based Chargeurs has been a supplier of fabrics to Leach – for the past seven years.
Explaining the decision to sell, Richard Leach said: “Having experienced 10 years of consecutive growth, we have been planning how to pursue the next chapter of our journey for some time.
“A key part of our long-term strategy has been to attract investment that will allow us to generate more international sales and to keep our growth record going, but finding the best-fit business to acquire us was crucial.”
Richard added: “Leach started out life in 1891, when my great-grandfather opened a one-man photographic studio in Brighouse. This family legacy is something the family shareholders were incredibly keen to preserve and build upon and is one of the main reasons why Chargeurs – with a 146-year-old story of its own – was such a great fit.
“It is also the reason why we have decided to retain ownership and management of Leach Studio – our interpretive design brand for museum, gallery, heritage and visitor environments. This brand is perfectly suited to continue operating under a ‘family business’ model – it isn’t ready for internationalisation.
“But the same cannot be said for our large format display production divisions, Leach Impact and Leach Inspire. We’re ready to access different overseas markets with the products and services that these brands have to offer and Chargeurs’ financial backing – as well as a global presence, multi-lingual expertise and decades of knowledge – will help us do that.”
He said that while nothing would change on a day-to-day basis at the Bradley site, the acquisition gave the team better access to investment to fuel further product innovation.
“By creating more of a closed loop business model with the supplier of our best-selling print material, we can also offer even sharper response times, which should give us a more distinct competitive edge in the marketplace,” Richard said. “Otherwise it’s business as usual – the same offices, the same team and the same brand.”
Leach employs 100 people and has a turnover of £11m. Chargeurs, which has customers in more than 80 countries – including leading luxury fashion houses – is a €533m business generating more than 90% of turnover outside France with plans to double its turnover to €1bn in the next five years.