Sailmaker under new ownership

FORMER Essex car dealership owner Nigel Grogan has acquired a majority stake in Hyde Sails, a sailmaking business formerly based in the county but now carrying out its manufacturing overseas.

FORMER Essex car dealership owner Nigel Grogan has acquired a majority stake in Hyde Sails, a sailmaking business formerly based in the county but now carrying out its manufacturing overseas.

The business was formed in Essex in 1965 by Keith Musto - who left in 1980 to focus on the development of the Musto outdoor clothing business, based in Laindon - and Edward Hyde, who has continued to develop the sail business.

Formerly based in Benfleet, Hyde Sails moved its manufacturing in 2000 to a new 55,000 sq ft sail loft in Cebu, in the Philippines, where it now employs around 200 people, producing more than 40,000 sails a year for vessels ranging from dinghies through to keelboats and yachts.

Its main UK base is now at Swanwick, near Southampton, although several members of the team remain in Essex.

Mr Hyde has now sold the business to fellow Essex entrepreneur Nigel Grogan who, after starting his business career with the Mars Corporation, set up a chain of VW and Audi dealerships in the Chelmsford and Colchester areas which he sold in 2003.

Since then, Mr Grogan has been taking on a variety of new challenges, including consultancy work with Hyde Sails for the past two years. He is keen sailor himself, owning a number of boats racing in classes as diverse as the OK dinghy to Squib's and Melges as well as cruising in his Beneteau 50.

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Mr Hyde said: “After a period of rapid growth as a result of moving production to the Philippines I have decided to sell the majority of the shares and control of the business to Nigel Grogan who has the management and business skills to develop the Hyde brand.

“I believe that Nigel can not only enable the company to continue to expand but that he will also extend the brand into other commercial areas.”

Edward Hyde has retained a stake in the company - reflecting, he said, his confidence in a bright future for the business - and although he will no longer be a director he will continue in a consultancy role.

Mike Lennon, who is responsible for design and production at Hyde Sails, and Richard Franks, the sales director, have both have signed new service contracts and will continue to work alongside Mr Grogan in building the company.