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Pen Shop changes ownership after MBO

EUROPE'S biggest luxury pen retailer, which began life as a vendor of newspapers and stationery in a Newcastle store, is under new ownership for the first time in its 157-year history following a management buy-out (MBO).

The Pen Shop is now under the ownership of its executive directors – managing director Colin McClymont, finance director Andy Briggs and e-commerce director Vic Morgan – after its purchase from the Allan family, who founded the business in 1858.

The company is the biggest retailer of its kind in Europe, with 20 retail shops across the UK, a thriving and fast-growing online operation, and a wholesale business supplying pens and gifts under its own brand, Kingsley.

Through the MBO, which transfers ownership from the Allan family shareholders to the newly formed Fountain Group, the jobs of its 145 staff will be protected, and the business will move to a new stage in its development.

The Pen Shop began life as T&G Allan, named after brothers Thomas and George Allan who opened their first shop on Newcastle’s Collingwood Street.

The business took on its current name in 1946 when the first standalone pen shop in the UK was opened, and one T&G Allan store still remains, in Morpeth.

The business has its head office at Team Valley, in Gateshead, and has had Mr McClymont as its managing director for 26 years.

Its stability has been hailed as a key factor in its continued growth.

The MBO marks the first time since its inception that no member of the Allan family has been involved in the business.

Outgoing Chairman, Richard Allan, said: “With no member of the Allan family now involved in an executive capacity within the business, it has been decided to relinquish control to Colin McClymont and his team.

“The disposal to the current management team ensures long-term stability of the business, minimal disruption to suppliers, and crucially in the family’s eyes, security of employment for the staff, many of whom are long-serving.

“Our family is delighted that the business will continue to be based on Tyneside, where George and Thomas Allan opened their first shop in 1858.

“We thank our many customers for their support in the intervening years, and particularly thank the current generation of loyal executives and staff for their services to both T&G Allan / The Pen Shop and the Allan family.  We wish Colin, Andy and Vic every success in the future.”

Newcastle law firm Sintons acted for the Allan family in the transactions, with UNW providing corporate finance advice.

Law firm Ward Hadaway and Cavu Corporate Finance acted for the Fountain Group.  The Fountain Group’s working capital facility was provided by NatWest Bank.

Martin Hulls, Partner and Head of Corporate at Ward Hadaway, said: “We are delighted to have assisted Colin and the team on this successful transaction.

“The management team’s depth of experience and passion for the business augurs well for this next stage in The Pen Shop’s long history.”

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