14.08.2015

We have a chat with Alan Halsall, the former chairman and owner of Silver Cross and SREG founder, to talk about the reasons for selling his business last month.

Thirteen years after rescuing Silver Cross from administration, Alan Halsall has sold the business to a Chinese conglomerate, Fosun, to assist its expansion overseas and in China.alan

Alan bought the company in 2002, building on its name and heritage to turn it into a major pram and nursery brand.

“My family company Halsall Toys owned the rights to make Silver Cross toys,” he said. “I always thought it was a great brand so when I heard it was in administration I didn’t hesitate and acquired the company within a few days.

“I’ve enjoyed being the chairman and owning Silver Cross over the past 13 years, but the type of investment now needed take the company further was probably too much for myself, and that’s why I decided to sell to Fosun.

“They own a number of leisure assets like Cirque de Soleil and Club Med and are looking for good brands that they can expand within China.

“Silver Cross has always had a good name in China, but you need a lot of expertise and capital to really develop the market over there. So by letting Fosun take over the company, they are in a position to really make Silver Cross happen in China.”

Alan added: “One of the other conditions of the sale was retention of staff. I’m delighted to say that Fosun has indicated on many occasions how pleased they are with the Silver Cross team and certainly don’t intend to make changes. I’m the only one in the whole company who is moving on.

“Chief executive Nick Paxton. Who has done a tremendous job over the years for Silver Cross, will remain in post which will ensure continuity. Over the years there’s been a great team built up – predominantly by Nick – so it was very important in all the negotiations to ensure that any purchaser kept the team together.

“The fact that Fosun agreed to keep the staff, including a number with marketing and design experience, and can see the importance of the headquarters in Skipton, was very reassuring.

“I’m delighted that Silver Cross is having its best ever year and I can only see the future of the brand being very positive indeed.”

Alan admitted it was tough letting go, and said: “I have put 13 years of my life into the company and I don’t want to see anything other than continued success for the business.

“It’s been a hard decision to sell but it was undoubtedly in the best interests of the brand at this stage of its development.

“The Chinese owner has the experience and wealth to develop great products and great marketing, especially in China.”

The sale was a long process, however, and Alan recommends anyone planning to sell their business fully understands the implications of what is involved.

“What have I learnt? Well, the actual process of selling the company was very stressful. There were a lot of stops and starts along the way before a deal was finally signed.
“As ever, the devil is in the detail. Never think you can manage the process without getting well and truly into all the details.

“Also if you think you have a deadline agreed – think again! My experience was deadlines seem to come and go with quite regular monotony.

“And finally you need a LOT of patience.”

While he enjoys playing golf (“just at weekends”) and horse racing (as an owner), Alan is far from retired.

He will continue his role with SREG, and also as chairman of the Craven Education Trust which runs Skipton Academy.

He added: “Perhaps I might start up another venture, though nothing has been decided. The one thing that is a definite is I am certain of the rosy future for Silver Cross.”

Alan is happy for any SREG members to email him for any further advice on this topic at davidahalsall@gmail.com

Any businesses or start-ups in Skipton or Ripon who feel they could benefit from SREG’s support can contact SREG’s chief executive Andy Barton on andybarton@skiptonandriponenterprisegroup.co.uk

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