Diary publishing firm Letts changes hands again

Letts chief Gordon Presly backed the deal. Picture: TSPL
Letts chief Gordon Presly backed the deal. Picture: TSPL
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LETTS Filofax Group, the venerable Dalkeith-based diary publisher, has been bought by HSGP Investments, a company owned by Letts chief executive Gordon Presly and Canadian stationery entrepreneur Harolde Savoy.

The Scotsman revealed in September that Letts was up for sale, with French stationery firm Exacompta Clairefontaine understood to have been among the potential suitors at the time.

HSGP declined to say how much it had paid for Letts, which traces its roots back to 1796, but said it has secured a three-year working capital facility from PNC Financial Services UK for up to £15 million a year.

Presly was appointed chief executive at Letts in 1998 and then at Letts Filofax Group (LFG) in 2001 when Letts bought Filofax. He led a secondary management buyout in 2006, which was backed by Phoenix Equity Partners.

Savoy’s family owns stationery businesses Dominion Blueline in Canada and Rediform in the United States.

Savoy said: “The first diary I ever purchased in 1984 was a Letts product, so it’s very exciting to be able to now acquire a company that I have respected my whole business life.

“I have known Gordon for over ten years and it’s exciting to have the opportunity to now work with him.

“I believe this deal brings great opportunities for both groups.”

Presly said the stationery industry was ripe for consolidation and that he was “delighted that Harolde and I have been able to acquire LFG”.

Presly added: “The prospect of partnering with an industry colleague who is a ‘strategic player’ was really compelling for me. After leading the company for 13 years under private equity ownership… this new ownership structure … brings fresh long-term support for the company, its customers, suppliers and employees.”

The deal, which is understood to have been signed on Friday at the Edinburgh office of corporate law firm Dickson Minto, is expected to secure 280 jobs in Dalkeith.

Letts also has operations in the Midlands and the south of England, as well as in France, Germany, Hong Kong, Italy, Scandinavia and the US. The company brought production of some of its diaries back from China to Scotland in 2011 after investing £230,000 in equipment at Dalkeith.

At the time, Letts said that production costs in Asia had been rising as wages in China were climbing fast.