Movers & Shakers: Kirton Healthcare founder Martin Battye retires following MBO

Kirton Healthcare founder and chairman Martin Battye.

Kirton Healthcare founder and chairman Martin Battye. - Credit: Archant

KIRTON Healthcare’s chairman and founder Martin Battye has retired.

Thirty years ago, as an ambitious nurse working in the mental health sector, he recognised the need for enhanced specialist seating for those with disabilities who required better and more appropriate postural and pressure support.

With the assistance of occupational therapists, and using his knowledge of the sector, Martin developed innovative seating products that led to the the Kirton Healthcare Group. Today, the group owns the intellectual property of more than 30 models, setting a high benchmark in the provision of specialist seating products for the disabled and older people.

The firm, based in Haverhill, now employs more than 50 office-based staff along with a number of sales people, all of who are at the heart of the business, and most of whom are local to the area.

Martin said: “We are proud to be a company that supports employment from the local community as far as possible. It has been a privilege, pleasure and a lot of fun to work with so many talented people, whose commitment, energy and hard work have been the ingredients to a success that I am confident, will continue and grow into the future.”

Martin’s retirement has been facilitated by a management buyout, supported by NVM Private Equity. The management team plans to continue his legacy and build on the success of the business through organic growth and acquisitions, whilst maintaining the welcoming and gracious culture pioneered by Martin in the initial stages of the company’s inception.

The team will be made up by Bob Dodsley, Production Director, Debby Martin, Finance Director, Mark Fowkes, Sales Director, Andrew Hardman, Non-Executive Director and Beverly Lawrence, Group Managing Director.

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It will also be supported by British Healthcare Trades Association Mike Lord, former chairman of Handicare Accessibility and former chief executive of Minivator Group, who joins Kirton as non-executive chairman. Mr Lord is a highly knowledgeable and respected figure within the market and with 17 years’ experience across the rehabilitation, mobility and stairlift sectors, is the perfect addition to the Kirton management team.

Beverly Lawrence, group managing director and part of the new management team, said: “This is a very exciting time for Kirton. Martin has left behind an immense legacy and the management team is very much looking forward to nurturing and building on it, now and in the future.”

With the acquisition of High Wycombe-based A J Way in 2010, the Kirton Group firmly established itself as having the widest seating portfolio in the healthcare market. Its core customers include local authorities, NHS trusts, private care homes, the homecare market as well as servicing an experienced retailer network throughout the country. Since its inception, Kirton has continued to design and develop innovative products, seeking contribution from user groups and healthcare professionals to ensure only the best and most appropriate specialist seating products are launched. In the 90s, the company expanded into sensory stimulation tools for the physical and cognitive development of children and adults with special needs, resulting in the creation of SensoryPlus. The brand and its dedicated team have a strong focus on the development of appropriate sensory environments for a variety of care settings, including residential care homes, nurseries, activity centres and domestic spaces.

“The most important thing for us as a business is that we continue to provide the same high quality products and services to our customers and retailers as we have always done,” continued Beverly. “We will firmly maintain the ‘open door’ policy that Martin has implemented with great success over the years, and will continue to exceed expectations, be it those of our retailers, customers or staff members.”

Martin said: “It is with very mixed emotion that I announce my retirement from the Kirton Group, a company that I brought to life three decades ago, and have watched take up a market leader’s position. Kirton has not merely weathered a recession which has been as tough as any can remember, but further grown and expanded as a business to offer an unrivalled range and quality of healthcare seating. I could not be more proud of Kirton, my growing team over the years, and the management team that will be taking over after my retirement.”

: : A FORMER EADT Young Businessperson of the Year has been appointed in a prestigious new role.

Dayle Bayliss, from construction consultants Dayle Bayliss Associates LLP, based at Bentley, is now an East of England Board member for the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS).

The appointment of Dayle comes at the end of a hugely successful 12 months, which has seen her win the ‘Young Business Person of the Year’ Award at the East Anglian Business Awards in July 2012 and the Ipswich Star round of the Local Business Accelerators initiative, as well as winning prestigious business contracts including West Street Vineyards in Coggeshall and being asked to speak at the New Anglia LEP Growth conference earlier this year.

Dayle’s term as a board member will last three years. “To be selected as a board member for East of England RICS is a fantastic opportunity,” said Dayle “I feel privileged to now be in a position where I can influence policy and procedure and I hope the experience which I can bring to the table will be of benefit to the RICS members I will be representing.”

Dayle Bayliss Associates LLP specialise in architectural design, building surveying and project management.

: : FRED. Olsen Cruise Lines has appointed Ruth Ryland as its new public relations executive, based in the company’s head office in Ipswich.

Ruth has joined Public Relations Manager, Rachael Jackson, and public relations assistant Wendy Jeffreys, on the in-house PR team.

Rachael Jackson, public relations manager, said: “We are delighted to welcome Ruth Ryland to Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines, and we know that she will be a valuable asset to our in-house Public Relations team. Ruth comes from a dynamic PR agency background, so she will be able to use her varied experience and creative skills to build relationships and promote our award-winning cruise line.”

Ruth was previously senior account executive at Suffolk-based PR agency, Genesis PR, where she was responsible for handling four local and national client accounts. Prior to that, Ruth studied for an English Literature Degree at the University of East Anglia, before completing her MA in Public Relations from the London College of Communication, whilst completing an eight-month internship at Wild Card PR in London. Her responsibilities encompassed media relations, researching, writing press releases, copywriting, assisting in the organisation and implementation of events and crisis management. Ruth is also an active member of the East Anglia Chartered Institute of Public Relations Committee.

Ruth Ryland, the new Public Relations Executive for Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines, said: “I am very proud to have joined Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines at an exciting, yet challenging, time for the cruise industry. I have a strong interest in travel personally and I am thrilled to be able to pursue that interest professionally as well.

“It is a pleasure to be promoting such an impressive and unique product, and to be working for such a reputable company. I am looking forward to using my practical and academic experience in the Public Relations profession to help build on Fred. Olsen’s already- exceptional reputation.”

Working in the agency side of PR has allowed Ruth to gain experience of a diverse range of clients, in a variety of large and small organisations and brands, including Discovery Mexican Foods, Laurent Perrier, KitchenAid UK, Care UK and the British Blind and Shutter Association.

: : EMILY Dale has joined the design team at Anglia Factors, based at Martlesham Heath, moving from Davonport in Colchester.

Emily has a BA hons in Interior Design from Ipswich College and hopes to bring her own style to Anglia Factors while maintaining the high standards they are known for. She’s looking forward to the completion of the new showroom and working with the experienced team at Anglia Factors.