"Having experienced ten years of consecutive growth, we have been planning how to pursue the next chapter of our journey for some time."
French-owned Chargeurs, a global manufacturing and services group based in 34 countries on 5 continents and with leading positions in four segments – temporary surface protection, garment interlinings, technical substrates and combed wool – has bought the Leach Impact and Leach Inspire divisions of the company for an undisclosed sum. Leach Studio will continue to be privately owned by directors Richard Leach and Jim Parkin.
Chargeurs is no stranger to the Leach brand. Having supplied the Pearl fabric – Leach’s best-selling print material used in its iconic lightboxes – for the past seven years, the Paris-based organisation has long watched the evolution of this innovative Yorkshire firm.
But only now was the time right to sell, explains managing director Richard.
“Having experienced ten years of consecutive growth, we have been planning how to pursue the next chapter of our journey for some time,” he said. “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.
“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.”
Whilst nothing will change on a day-to-day basis at Leach’s 30,000sqft HQ, the acquisition gives the team better access to investment that will fuel even greater product innovation and customer satisfaction.
“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 continued. “Otherwise it’s business as usual – the same offices, the same team, and the same brand.”
With clients including Gap, Regatta and Barburrito Leach employs 100 people and has a turnover of £11m.
With a global customer portfolio spreading over 80 countries – including the world’s leading luxury fashion houses – Chargeurs is a €533m business of which more than 90% was generated outside France with plans to double its turnover to €1bn in the next five years.