Legal action could follow lock-out at Vanners in Sudbury

Roger Gawn

Roger Gawn is considering taking legal action to get back into Vanners' silk factory. - Credit: Steve Adams

The owner of the Vanners silk business in Sudbury is considering taking legal action against the administrators who own the factory building it is based in after being locked out earlier this month.

Norfolk businessman Roger Gawn bought the Vanners business when it went into administration in November 2020.

However, the deal did not include its factory in Sudbury which remained in the hands of administrators Interpath Advisory.

Mr Gawn had been trying to buy the factory since last year - but no deal was completed and on February 1 it was formally repossessed and the 30 workers found themselves locked out.

However, Mr Gawn insisted the money was available - the problem had been that the administrators did not give him long enough to get it together and repossessed the building before he had a time to finalise the deal.

The historic home of Vanners in Sudbury Picture: GREGG BROWN

Vanners factory was repossessed by administrators at the beginning of the month.

He said: "The money is ready now, but they have just gone ahead and done this. I don't know what will happen next - but I may have to take legal advice to get back in there and get the business going again."

Vanners has a history dating back to 1740 and has been in its current factory since 1870. Its garments have been worn by some of the world's best-known style icons including Adele and Michelle Obama.

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The original company went into administration in November 2020 after some of its largest customers cancelled major orders during the first Covid lockdowns.

Half the 64 staff were laid off, but the remainder were kept on by Mr Gawn - although there were problems in early 2021 when wage payments were delayed because of issues with furlough payments.

James Lumb, managing director at Interpath Advisory and joint administrator of Silk Industries Limited, said: “The decision to repossess the site was not one that was taken lightly, but came after a number of agreed deadlines, including the option to extend the lease and the exchange of contracts on agreed terms, were missed by Mr Gawn.

“We are now exploring options for the future of the site, including its sale, and will consider all expressions of interest at this stage.”