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Stewart News

Stewart and Pippa Greenwood team up to promote grow your own

September, 2011

Pippa GreenwoodBritish plastics manufacturer, Stewart, and grow your own specialist and regular broadcaster, Pippa Greenwood, have signed an initial three year partnership agreement. The parties will work together to help consumers improve their understanding of growing fruit and vegetables at home and support retailers in this increasingly popular market sector.

The agreement, announced today at Glee 2011, covers a wide range of joint promotional and educational initiatives. As well as appearing on the Stewart website, Greenwood will attend promotional events and take part in a grow your own training road show for consumers and trade customers. In turn, Stewart will have a presence on the much-loved gardener's website, www.pippagreenwood.com, and promote the url on point-of-sale materials and stickers on 200,000 products. The website will be enhanced with features and products for Stewart customers.

Stewart and Pippa Greenwood also plan to maximise social media and blogging opportunities to make advice and product information available to the widest possible audience.

Commenting on the agreement, Nigel Thompson, Sales Director of Stewart, said, "We are delighted to announce our partnership with Pippa Greenwood. Pippa is highly experienced in grow your own and is a familiar personality, thanks to her regular appearances on TV and radio where her advice is keenly sought after. The coming together of the best of British manufacturing and gardening know-how will add even more value for our trade customers and consumers. Everyone at Stewart is looking forward to working with Pippa."

Greenwood is equally excited about the agreement. Speaking from the Stewart stand at Glee 2011, she said, "I am thrilled to be working with Stewart. Their product range demonstrates a real and long term commitment to grow your own - something that everyone knows I am passionate about. I believe that, together, we can support retailers and help gardeners everywhere get the very most from their grow your own efforts."

For more information, visit www.stewart-garden.co.uk.

Glee 2011 is taking place at the NEC, Birmingham, 19 - 21 September. Stewart Garden is exhibiting on stand 5C06-D05.

For more information contact:

Sara Tye
RedheadPR

Tel: 07786 176 617
Email: sara@redheadpr.co.uk

 

 

ECI invests £12 million in Stewart Group in deal valuing it at £17 million

June, 2011

ECI, the leading UK mid-market private equity specialist, has today invested £12 million in Croydon-based Stewart Group Holdings Ltd ("Stewart") in a BIMBO (buy-in / management buyout) deal that values the business at £17 million.

Stewart is the UK market leader in the manufacture and supply of technical plastic moulded products for the gardening, home, professional catering and medical storage sectors. The company offers a large range of products in its portfolio ranging from garden planters and propagators, to food containers and specialist storage products for medical applications. The company employs 75 people in Croydon and enjoyed a turnover in 2010 of £15 million.

Richard Butler, who joins as the Group CEO, brings significant knowledge of the advanced technical plastics sector from working for leading manufacturers in the aerospace and automotive sector.

Lee Mowle, the current owner and CEO, will remain with the business as Managing Director of the gardening and catering divisions and retains a substantial shareholding in the company.

Three other senior managers within Stewart are also becoming shareholders in the business as part of the transaction. Ken Lindsay and Eleanor Blagbrough led the transaction for ECI, and Ken will join the Board following completion.

Stewart is a very long-established UK manufacturing business. Its clients include the major DIY stores such as Homebase, homeware stores including Wilkinson, wholesalers such as Booker, and more than 600 independent garden centres, with Dobbies among its clients. Stewart also works with a number of specialist catering distributors. Most people will find they have a Stewart Plastics product somewhere in their home, either in the garden or in the kitchen.

First incorporated in 1945, Stewart has a long and chequered history. Listed on the London Stock Exchange in the 1960s, it was acquired by Bunzl in 1985 and underwent its first buyout in 1999.

Having seen the business deteriorate and become loss-making, Lee Mowle, the current owner, acquired it with a partner in 2003 and became CEO, taking full ownership in 2008. During this time, Lee reversed the company's declining fortunes, generating strong growth through a focus on new product innovation and outstanding customer service.

Despite the recession, the company has grown strongly on the back of positive consumer demand for gardening products. Its success is driven by trends including an ageing population which has more time to garden, an increasing culture of "grow your own‟, healthy and organic eating, and growing interest in gardening as a leisure pastime.

With ECI‟s investment, the business plans to accelerate its already successful product innovation strategy, and will pursue targeted acquisitions of complementary product businesses in its existing core markets. It will also use Richard Butler‟s experience to expand into new markets which can benefit from its unusually strong and wide technical capabilities.

Ken Lindsay of ECI commented: "This investment offers ECI the opportunity to be involved with an excellent team running a market-leading company with a strong reputation, a well respected brand and excellent customer relationships. Lee has already done a great job developing the company to where it is today, and we are delighted to back him to accelerate the business further. Richard Butler brings new skills and experience to the business and will be key to driving its expansion into new markets.

"Stewart is exactly the kind of business that ECI‟s manufacturing team likes to back. It is a good, old fashioned, British manufacturing company that has moved with the times and developed a strong position in an attractive market, as well as earning strong customer loyalty. It has done that by focussing on making good quality and innovative products, and delivering them to the customer at an attractive price point. It has great potential to continue to grow and develop further. We look forward to working with Richard and Lee to help it do so."

Richard Butler, CEO of Stewart Group Holdings commented: "Gardening and catering are solidly growing markets, driven by a number of long term trends including aging demographics, more leisure time and an increasing focus on healthy eating. Stewart has reflected this by prospering through the recession, and the business is well positioned in its existing markets to continue to grow strongly.

"Whilst Stewart‟s products appear superficially simple, they are technically highly complex to manufacture. The company has an unparalleled range of technical capabilities which it can use to expand its mastery of advanced, technical plastics into new market sectors."

Lee Mowle, MD of Stewart Gardening & Catering commented:

"At Stewart, we have worked hard and successfully for the last eight years, first to turn round the business and return it to growth. We now see lots of new opportunities for the business opening up in both our existing and new markets, and I am delighted to bring in ECI and Richard as partners to help us do so."

For further information please contact:

Equus Group (for ECI Partners)

Piers Hooper / Sam Barton +44 (0)20 7223 1100

Sam.Barton@equusgroup.co.uk

Stewart Group

Sara Tye +44 07786 176 617

Sara@redheadPR.co.uk

Financial, Legal and Commercial Advisors:

BDO, corporate finance advisor to ECI.

KPMG, Newton, Tyler Mangan and Grant Thornton, due diligence advisors to ECI.

Cameron Barney, advised the shareholders and introduced the transaction to ECI.

SJ Berwin, legal advice to ECI.

ASB-Law, legal advisor to the vendors.

Eversheds, legal advisor to the new CEO.

Cavendish, advised the vendors.

Baker Tilly, taxation advisor to the company and the vendors.

CIL, commercial due diligence advisor to ECI.

Heath Lambert, insurance due diligence advisor to ECI.

RPS Group, environmental due diligence advisor to ECI.

 

The Stewart Company launches the 2011 Design Collection with the Zurbano Planters Range

October, 2010

The Stewart Company launches the 2011 Design Collection with the Zurbano Planters Range

The Stewart Company has just launched a new range of contemporary Zurbano Planters.

Available in two colours, graphite and stone, and in round and square shapes, Zurbano features a striking polished aluminium band insert and a curved wave running from top to bottom.

Zurbano stands 38cm high with the square model measuring 37cm x 37cm. The round option has a diameter of 38cm. Each is designed to complement a modern environment, either indoor or outdoor.

Manufactured in high quality ABS, Zurbano offers all the appeal of heavier materials with the added advantages of being light to carry, highly durable and resistant to frost while looking beautiful in homes or gardens.  Available for SRSP £29.99 in garden centres from November 2010 and from Homebase from early spring 2011.

Alan Slack, Marketing manager at The Stewart Company, said. “This launch represents something genuinely innovative for injection moulded planters. The metallic insert and stylish contemporary look is unlike anything else available in this sector of the market and we anticipate an enthusiastic response from Trade and consumers.”

The Stewart Company wins Klondyke/Strikes Dry Goods Supplier award 2010

October, 2010

Garden supplies business, The Stewart Company, has won the Klondyke Group Ltd Dry Goods Supplier award for 2010.

The award, presented by the garden centre group at this year’s Glee Exhibition at the NEC, Birmingham, recognises the contribution of outstanding suppliers to the 24 Klondyke/Strikes outlets across England, Scotland and Wales.

David Yardley, Group Operations Director and head of buying at the Klondyke Group said, “The Stewart Company fully merited this award for their continued product development and excellent customer service. Their product availability and short lead time have helped us maximise sales in a difficult retail environment.”

Nigel Thompson, Sales Director at The Stewart Company, said, “We’re thrilled to have won the Klondyke Group Dry Goods Supplier award. The Klondyke Group is not just a key customer but a major group within the trade. The award also goes a long way to rewarding everyone here at The Stewart Company for the improvements we’ve made to our processes and the emphasis we place on customer relationships.”

The Stewart Company and the Carbon Trust

April, 2010

  The Stewart Company reduces energy consumption.

  In its drive for greater manufacturing efficiencies The Stewart Company have greatly reduced their energy consumption while shedding 926 tonnes of CO2 a year from the company's carbon footprint. Helped by Carbon Trust loans, The Stewart Company has installed a new chiller system and three new injection moulding machines.

The Stewart Company is a long-established business, manufacturing plastic garden and catering products. It supplies UK DIY and garden centres with pots and planters amongst other things, and wholesalers and cash and carry outlets with food storage and preparation products.   

After a management buy out in 2003, Lee Mowle, Managing Director and owner was keen to replace the older equipment he found himself with which was slow, inefficient, energy intensive and expensive to maintain. 

 Lee explains, "The investment in new machinery is part of a bigger programme to modernise the entire business and become more efficient - you could almost see the lights of Croydon dim when we powered up in the morning! While talking to a supplier, I found out that some of the equipment I was considering might be eligible for one of the Carbon Trust's energy efficiency loans." 

 Stewart went on to apply for three interest-free business loans to replace a cooling system on the roof and a number of the older injection moulding machines. As a result, the company has cut energy consumption by around 1 million kWh annually - from a site that was using around 7 million kWh a year. 

 Lee continues, "The Carbon Trust loans helped kick-start the replacement process. It meant we could get on with the project, six to 12 months earlier than we would have done had we dealt with the bank. The Carbon Trust came up with a calculation that equates our repayment plan to our monthly energy savings."

 During production, hot molten plastic is injected under high pressure into a mould, which needs cooling so that it sets and the resulting product can be removed. The company's existing cooling system and towers were more than 20 years old and very inefficient. The first loan replaced these with a centralised, high energy efficiency cooler system to deliver chilled water to the injection moulding machines.  

 Getting more from machinery

A further two loans were used to replace three 25 year-old injection moulding machines - one 650 tonne and two 280 tonne units - with new models featuring energy-saving hydraulic systems.

 "The new machines are far more energy efficient," Lee concludes. "Though our business has grown by around 8% from a turnover perspective, our energy costs are down by 13%. This means we're making savings at a time when energy prices are going up. The new machines are also 20-25% faster so the cost of our products come down, helping us stay competitive. Also, the garden market is very seasonal; you have to be able to react to the weather and supply product to the shelves for those few sunny weekends per year."

 

 

 

Grow Your Own at Home

September, 2009

 

As the grow-your-own movement gathers pace, fuelled by concerns about seasonal eating, shopping bills, and the environment, grow-your-own specialist The Stewart Company has added to its range of equipment to help experienced gardeners and new enthusiasts to successfully grow their own vegetables.

Leading garden supplies company Stewart has added four new easy-to-use products to its range of grow-your-own planters for the 2009/10 growing season.

Grow-in-Boxâ„¢
Grow-in-Boxâ„¢ gives gardeners all the benefits of a raised bed in an instant, and is made from 100% recycled plastic. The modular system is flexible and convenient, and can be used to grow vegetables, herbs, salads and flowers in any size garden, patio, balcony or allotment.

Grow In Box

Grow-in-Boxâ„¢ gives gardeners the opportunity to easily create new growing areas in small spaces. Unlike most other raised bed systems which are fixed sizes and shapes, Grow-in-Boxâ„¢ can be used to create square, rectangular or corner beds in single or multiple depths. This means the system is great for root vegetables as it can be stacked up, and perfect for potatoes as soil can be banked.

Even if you've only got a balcony or patio, a fresh crop of veg is only weeks away when you use Grow-in-Boxâ„¢ with a Stewart Gravel Tray. The raised beds can be used on a platform for gardeners who have problems kneeling down, and can also overcome problems with your existing soil by using new soil or an organic growing medium.

Grow-in-Box™ is a simple clip-together system which is bought as a kit and can be carried away under your arm from the garden centre for just £29.99.

The Grow-in-Boxâ„¢ set can be used to create 2 x 50cm square sections at 21cms deep, or 1 x 50cm square double stacked to 42cms deep, or a rectangular bed at 21cms deep. The kit is made up of eight rigid panels, eight corner units, four fastening clips, and two strengtheners for rectangular beds. Full assembly instructions are included.

Key benefits:

  • Grow-in-Boxâ„¢ is free draining, easily accessible and provides early warming for crops.
  • It can be used to grow vegetables, salads, herbs or flowers
  • For gardens, patios, balconies and allotment
  • The modular system allows square or rectangular beds, and planting in single or deeper layers.
  • Extra kits can be used to increase the height or size of the bed
  • Grow-in-Boxâ„¢ is manufactured in the UK from 100% Recycled Material 

Kitchen Garden Propagator Set
The new Kitchen Garden Propagator Set is the perfect way to start growing your own. It just needs a sheltered area with natural light for a good crop.

You only need an area the size of a windowsill to grow vegetables, herbs and salads from seed. This makes growing your own economical, and perfect for novices and children.

The set costs just £9.99 and is comprised of:

  • 70cm rectangular tray
  • 2 x 22cm propagators - base tray and rigid cover with vents
  • 1 x 5 small flowerpots.

Cloche Tunnel
The sturdy new 100cm Cloche Tunnel helps gardeners to protect and grow on seedlings and vegetables for years of healthy plants.

The Cloche Tunnel has loads of great design features, including a built-in drop system in the top for slow release of water or feed, to prevent over-watering. It’s also easy to extend by simply clipping on another tunnel to extend crop protection.

Cloche Ends can be added to give guaranteed protection against frost and pests, and the Cloche Ends can also be used together to create a ‘mini cloche’. Cloche Pegs will secure the cloche deeply in the ground or can be flexed to provide venting.

Pricing: 

  • 100 cm Cloche - £19.99
  • Pair of Cloche Ends- £12.99
  • Set of 10 Cloche Pegs- £6.99

22cm Propagator
Growing your own from seed is now accessible to all, with the introduction of Stewart’s windowsill-size 22cm Propagator.

The new smaller size is an addition to Stewart’s popular propagator range. It is a really handy size for a small space or to add to an existing set of unheated propagators. Gardeners just need a small sheltered area with natural light to get a head start on growing seedlings and cuttings during the colder months.

The 22cm Propagator set is made up of a base tray and a clear rigid cover with sliding vent, and retails at £3.79. The new 22cm Cover is available separately at £2.99 for gardeners who already have the existing £0.99 Stewart 22cm Base Tray.

All of the new products are easy to install and can be carried away from garden centres and DIY stores, so there are no delivery charges.

The increasing popularity of grow-your-own has been boosted by a number of schemes to encourage people to grow their own vegetables at home, including:

  • Grow Your Own, a campaign to promote seasonal eating and food growing, part-funded by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
  • The BBC’s Dig In campaign
  • The National Trust’s Food Glorious Food campaign

The Stewart Company is a real British success story. It was established more than 65 years ago, and is now a leading player in the gardening industry. It supplies products including growing trays, planters, propagation equipment, watering products and its groundbreaking 100% biodegradable plastic Bio Flowerpots to over 800 garden centres and national chains including Wyevale, Dobbies, Homebase and Wilkinson.

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Stewart supplies its products through DIY store and Garden centres throughout the UK

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