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East Anglia Future 50

'Great news' as Smart Garden Offices acquired by management team after previous owner bows out

PUBLISHED: 15:00 08 July 2019 | UPDATED: 15:00 08 July 2019

From left, Smart Garden Offices' new owners Paul Sheppard, Sue Phillips and Matt Moss  Picture: PAUL NIXON PHOTOGRAPHY

From left, Smart Garden Offices' new owners Paul Sheppard, Sue Phillips and Matt Moss Picture: PAUL NIXON PHOTOGRAPHY

Paul Nixon Photography 07904296577

A Suffolk-based garden buildings manufacturer has been bought out by the team that runs it.

Smart Garden Offices' manufacturing site in Thurston  Picture: PHIL MORLEYSmart Garden Offices' manufacturing site in Thurston Picture: PHIL MORLEY

Smart Garden Offices was previously owned by its founder, Charlie Dalton, but he had already given up his involvement in the firm, based at Thurston, near Bury St Edmunds, and decided to go one step further and sever all ties through a management buyout.

"It was time for me to move on and it was time for the business to have a new management and a new structure," he said.

MORE - Bury St Edmunds garden living spaces manufacturer collapses with loss of 39 jobs

Mr Dalton suffered a major blow this year when his high-end garden living spaces manufacturing business Zedbox - a completely separate company spun out of Smart last year - collapsed with the loss of 39 jobs.

But now Smart, a £5m turnover firm employing 36 staff, has been purchased by its new leadership team after a successful management buyout (MBO).

From left, Charlie Dalton and Matt Moss  Picture: PAUL NIXON PHOTOGRAPHYFrom left, Charlie Dalton and Matt Moss Picture: PAUL NIXON PHOTOGRAPHY

Suffolk businessman Matt Moss - who joined the management team earlier this year to drive the firm forward - operations director Paul Sheppard and sales and marketing director Sue Phillips, acquired the business for an undisclosed sum.

Mr Moss said it was "great news" for the workforce, as well as the firm's suppliers and customers, adding that during the buyout process, the firm had continued to deliver to customers "without a hitch".

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"Ultimately, the new ownership guarantees an injection of new energy, a renewed sense of purpose and an even greater focus on our core values of quality, product development and all round innovation," he said. "The future is looking good for Smart and everyone associated with our vision to help improve people's living spaces for the better and maintain their work/life balance."

Mr Dalton said he was "delighted" for Matt and his team. "It's a great business and they'll thrive but it was time for a new ownership and the drive and the vision that Matt has continues to impress me. They go forward and will thrive very much with my blessing," he added.

"Matt has now got everything he needs to drive the business forward and I'm thrilled for him. It's a great business and as a business it can now go into its future, which is looking particularly bright for it."

Smart, which was launched 17 years ago, uses state-of-the-art building techniques and materials and traditional craftsmanship skills to create its garden offices.

Mr Sheppard has nearly two decades' of manufacturing and management experience, having previously been operations director at Poundfield Products Ltd at Creeting St Peter.

Ms Phillips, who joined Smart in 2015, previously worked in a range of senior sales and marketing roles in the eastern region.

Hertfordshire-based funding firm Primary Asset Finance and solicitors Greene & Greene, based in Bury St. Edmunds provided their professional services to the buyout process.

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