Cheers! Clearwater advises on MBO of beer label company


The company which produced the UK’s first ever beer bottle label has undergone a multi million pound management buy-out.

The Birmingham office of Clearwater Corporate Finance advised the management of Darley Limited on the acquisition of the business from parent company Adare Group. Established in 1827, Darley Limited is based in Burton upon Trent and is now one of the leading packaging suppliers to the brewery industry as well as a key provider of packaging for pharmaceutical companies.

Darley printed its first wet-glue beer label in 1860. Today it now supplies worldwide to all the major breweries and it produces wet glue labels and packaging for the UK’s most popular brands such as Carlsberg Export, Guinness, Magners, Foster’s, Budweiser and Newcastle Brown Ale.

It also provides packaging for pharmaceutical companies and is one of only 32 approved UK suppliers of patient information leaflets, which are included within the packaging of all drugs and medicines.

The company employs 75 people and has an annual turnover of circa £11 million.

The deal, which was funded by GE Commercial Finance, gives a majority shareholding in the business to a management team led by joint managing directors John Alton and Stewart Hughes and including finance director Amanda Barlow, sales director Stephen Blake, purchasing director Roy Cotton and production director Mick Hobster. Clearwater Corporate Finance has also invested in the business and takes a minority stake.

Darley is one of a number of businesses which Huddersfield-based Adare Group, a leading print services company, has recently sold as part of its strategy to focus on its core business. Others include Kall Kwik, Prontaprint and C J Fallon.

John Alton, joint managing director with Darley said: “This is a very positive step for Darley and will enable us to build on our position as a leading packaging solutions provider and take the company forward to a new phase of its development. This will be achieved by expanding our portfolio of products and services, delivering a superior service, and ensuring that the business remains closely aligned to the evolving market.”

Gary Hyem, director with Clearwater Corporate Finance added: “Almost every adult in the UK will be familiar with Darley’s products, even if they do not recognise the name. As the company behind the country’s first beer bottle label, it has earned a place in brewing history and almost 150 years later, is still going strong thanks to its policy of continuing investment and innovation.

“Darley has excellent growth potential and an experienced management team with a clear vision of how to take the business forward. The buy-out will give them the autonomy they need to do this.”

Commenting on the deal, Drew Johnson, regional director of GE Commercial Finance said: “We are delighted to be involved in the funding of this well established business and are confident that the management team will continue this success.”

Richard Underwood, corporate partner with leading Birmingham firm Martineau Johnson, who advised the management team added: “It was a pleasure to work with a successful and cohesive team who I am sure are going to take the business from strength to strength.”