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Iconic British fishing brand sold to international buyer

LAW firm Ward Hadaway has advised on the sale of iconic Northumberland fishing equipment maker Hardy & Greys to a leading global provider of fishing tackle, Pure Fishing, Inc.

The Alnwick-based company, whose equipment has been used by anglers across the world for over a century, and its subsidiary Hardy Advanced Composites have been bought by Pure Fishing, Inc. for an undisclosed sum.

Lawyers from Ward Hadaway in Newcastle and corporate finance specialists at Grant Thornton in Newcastle and Birmingham advised Hardy & Greys’ owner, the Harris & Sheldon Group Ltd, on the sale of the businesses.

Hardy & Greys Ltd has been based in Alnwick since its formation in 1872. It was acquired by the Harris & Sheldon Group Limited from the Hardy family in 1967.

It became Hardy & Greys Ltd in 2004 – the change of name reflecting its acquisition of fellow fishing tackle brand Greys, later followed by the acquisition of Chub – and set up subsidiaries in Germany and the USA which are now key markets. Across its brands, it covers all branches of recreational fishing.

The company has been at the forefront of the fishing tackle market since being awarded its first patent in 1880. It developed the first carbon fibre fishing rods and, thanks to work with researchers at Cambridge University and 3M, recently created rods made from the new SINTRIX™ carbon fibre material that have won a string of awards and are recognised as the finest fly rods in the world.

Hardy & Greys’ subsidiary, Hardy Advanced Composites Ltd, supplies not only advanced composite blanks for Hardy fishing rods but also custom-made composite tubes for a variety of customers in the defence, medical, sporting and consumer product markets.

The two businesses employ around 100 people.

Richard Maudslay, deputy chairman of Hardy & Greys, said: “Hardy & Greys has found a buyer who shares the company’s vision to develop its strong operations not just in the UK, continental Europe and North America but around the globe which is very good news.

“Pure Fishing recognises the importance of Hardy’s Alnwick heritage and the skills and expertise of the Alnwick-based employees.”

Zara Lane, who leads Grant Thornton’s Newcastle Corporate Finance offering, said: “Grant Thornton’s corporate finance team’s depth and breadth was invaluable in thoroughly analysing potential purchasers to ascertain those which represented a truly strategic fit for the businesses, could build on the considerable heritage of the brands and take them forward into the future.

“This latest deal highlights an increasing trend for overseas buyers keen to acquire strong British brands across a range of sectors.”

Katherine Hay-Heddle, partner in the Corporate team at Ward Hadaway, led the firm’s team advising on the sale.

Katherine said: “Hardy & Greys is a truly iconic name in the world of fishing as well as a long-standing client of Ward Hadaway so it was important for us to be able to secure a successful sale of the business.

“We are delighted to have assisted the team at the company on this deal which will see Hardy & Greys become part of a major global consumer group.”

Richard Maudslay, of Hardy & Greys, said:“Grant Thornton’s international experience was hugely beneficial, with the team not only understanding the nature of US acquirers and their corporate finance practices, but also managing the deal process efficiently despite time differences.

“Ward Hadaway’s assistance was invaluable in ensuring that the deal progressed smoothly to a successful conclusion.”

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