After a lifetime’s work with the North East’s oldest plumbing contractor, Graeme Gilligan can look forward to a well-earned retirement following his sale of Fred Stoddart Ltd.

Image of a tap with an overlay text announcing the completed sale of Fred Stoddart Ltd acquired by DFP Services

After a lifetime’s work with the North East’s oldest plumbing contractor, Graeme Gilligan can look forward to a well-earned retirement following his sale of Fred Stoddart Ltd.

Graeme joined the Sunderland-based company in 1977 at the age of 17, but remarkably his 47-year service still represents a mere fraction of the company’s existence.

Fred Stoddart was established way back in the Victorian times of 1870 and over the course of a century and a half it has provided high-quality plumbing services, also adding drain maintenance and the installation and servicing of boilers and solid fuel stoves to its offering.

Over the course of a career in which he has worked for only one company, Graeme literally climbed from the bottom rung of the ladder to the very top – becoming Managing Director, running the business alongside fellow director Steve Grant.

“I started as an apprentice in 1977 and served my time for four years as an apprentice plumber – four days on the tools, one day at college,” explained Graeme.

“I worked on the tools for a while, then Fred Stoddart died in 1985 and two of the older lads who were here eventually bought the company from Fred’s wife, Brenda – she had two sons who had good jobs and weren’t really interested in running a plumbing company.

“Those two older employees ran it for a couple of years, the business started to grow a little bit and they asked me to come in off the tools and help them in the office. In 1994 I was made a director and when those two lads reached retirement age, me and Steve took over in 2011 and we’ve pushed it on that bit further to where we are now.”

Like many business owners, however, Graeme reached a point where he realised the time had arrived to step back and hand the reins to someone new.

He instructed KBS Corporate to facilitate a sale and, with the help of the assigned Deal Executive, Paul Liptrott, a buyer was found in Durham-based DFP Services, which provides a range of maintenance services including fire and security, electrical, gas, plumbing and heating.

Graeme recognised DFP as a suitable fit, along with our work in overseeing the deal, saying: “We had a few enquiries and DFP is a North East company, so I went and had a meeting with them and it seemed a really well-run outfit.

“They do similar things to us and I thought it was an ideal match. I think they will be able to push the company on and modernise it, so everything will be slicker and faster for our customers.

“Paul was excellent, I’d recommend him. He kept us up to date with everything and was available if I ever needed any help. There were a few twists and turns along the way, like there would be in any deal, but we got there in the end.”

Paul Liptrott added: “It was important to find a buyer for Fred Stoddart that had the capability to ensure clients were retained and the business would continue to prosper.

“We believe DFP recognised the company has strong contracts and a workforce with a good reputation for quality of work.”

The transaction process was a collaborative effort as Paul benefited from the help of Guy Haynes, KBS Corporate Director, and Adam Gilbert and Deni Carter of AG Corporate Law with the Heads of Terms and Share Purchase Agreement, as well as Holly Bedford of K3 Tax Advisory.

Paul also praised KBS colleagues Drixie Espiritu, Research Analyst, for providing “exceptional work in identifying buyers” and Carmen Wong, Document Writer, for “exceptional marketing skills which put the business in the best light for the required buyers”.

All those combined efforts meant that, following a handover period, Graeme can look forward to enjoying the fruits of his working life, including spending more time in Portugal.

Everyone at KBS Corporate wishes Graeme a very happy retirement!


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