Director reveals possible rescue plan.

Vale Brothers – home of Thermatex, Griffin NuuMed and Jeffries saddles - has posted a notice of intention to appoint administrators.

The move protects the company from creditors’ legal action for around ten days as it seeks a solution, potentially a sale of the Walsall based business and its assets.

On Monday (2 October), Peter Wilkes, Vales’ managing director since 1999, told ETN he and a fellow director are likely to put in an offer to buy the company.

“It’s an extremely complex position,” he explained, “but I remain hopeful of finding a buyer. 

“There’s also a strong likelihood that myself and another director, Peter Cohen, will be putting in an offer. Of course, it doesn’t mean to say it will be accepted, the would-be administrator would have to decide. But it would avoid [the company] being in administration for more than a day.” 

Given that their offer is accepted, Peters Wilkes and Cohen will try to maintain almost all of business, although there will be some assets they don’t buy, such as leases on all the buildings, added Peter. 

Expressing concern for the future of his 79 employees, he said: “It’s about saving jobs and how we carry on as much of the business as we can,” he said. 

If the rescue plan comes to fruition, Vale Brothers will continue to manufacture in the UK. 

While the notice of intention to appoint administrators is current, and the company is not yet actually in administration, retailers are “safe” to order from Vale Brothers, added Peter. 

“Orders will be despatched as normal and they [retailers] will pay as they normally do. We are working hard to keep the flow of materials coming in and production going.”

Champion of British manufacturing

Walsall based Vale Brothers was established in 1786, primarily as a horse grooming brush manufacturer.

In the past two decades, the company has grown considerably and become a champion of British equestrian manufacturing.

Vale Brothers has acquired brands such as Edward Goddard whips in 2001, Thermatex rugs in 2005, Harry Dabbs saddles in 2007, Jeffries saddlery in 2015 and saddle pad brand Griffin Nuumed in 2018.

Vale Brothers merged with rubber matting and body armour specialist Davies Odell in 2021. 

What went wrong?

Many in the trade are saddened to hear of the troubles of some of Britain’s most respected equestrian brands. Certainly, quality has never been an issue and sales figures were reportedly strong.

“It was the speed with which recession hit,” said Peter, “and the fact that the [Ukraine] war followed on from Brexit and Covid which changed other things within the world, including people’s behaviour. 

“Covid caused very high freight costs and caused us to have high stock levels. When you have a one-year lead time on materials, you have to order so far ahead and you can’t suddenly turn the tap off… 

“We have actually had really good sales figures, but then there’s hindsight,” said Peter.