Gul International, the Bodmin-based watersports company best known for its
top-selling wetsuits, has been bought by its management in a £2 million
deal, safeguarding the company's future in Cornwall where it was founded 35
The buy-out, from Cardiff-based parent company Hawtin Plc, was backed by a
consortium of private investors and led by managing director John Felton, who
first joined Gul 10 years ago as finance director.
John, 44, will remain as managing director, a post he has held for the last
The £2 million deal includes £340,000 in cash for the entire share
capital of Gul, and bank debts of just over £1.6 million.
John said: "This is fantastic news because it secures Gul's future in
Cornwall and gives us more flexibility to pursue emerging markets more aggressively,
especially in North America where we see huge potential.
"Hawtin disposed of Gul because it was keen to reduce its borrowings and
we've managed to buy the company for an excellent price.
"Although we are best known for our wetsuits, we are seeing growth in
our lifestyle clothing ranges and the marine market, where we are carving out
a niche supplying high quality sailing gear. We intend to grow the business
substantially over the next three years and are looking to take on more staff.
"We have superb design and supply capabilities at Gul and will be strengthening
our sales and marketing teams to build on Gul's reputation as one of the UK's
leading watersports brands."
The company, which employs 50 people and has a turnover of £6.3 million,
will continue to be based at the Callywith Gate industrial estate in Bodmin
where it has taken a 15-year lease on its existing premises.
Support for the deal came from Lloyds TSB, with financial advice provided by
Soloman Hare and legal advice from Burges Salmon.
The private sector support for the deal was enabled through the Government's
Enterprise Investment Scheme, which provides tax incentives for investors and
is aimed at supporting start-up and expanding companies.