Ammodytes, based in St Ives, was established by Malcolm Gilbert, who has decided to retire after more than 30 years. When no suitable buyers were found on the open market, husband and wife Ian and Michelle Tyldesley decided to attempt a management buy-out.
The sale was successfully completed with the support of James Orpin from Stephen & Scown, John Peters from South West Investment Group (SWIG) and Christopher Bowring from Lloyds TSB.
Ammodytes originally caught, froze and sold sandeels, but the offering has expanded to include other sources of bait such as locally caught handline mackerel, whiting, haddock and sprats. The bait is processed and frozen at the Ammodytes factory in St Ives before being sold throughout the UK, Ireland and Europe, to a variety of customers such as angling and bait shops, aquariums, and sealife centres.
Recently its bait has even been exported to Dubai as fish food for the aquarium at the base of the Burj Al Arab Hotel, which is widely acknowledged as the best hotel in the world.
Ian has been involved with the business for over 25 years - the business was first set-up by Malcolm in the back garden of Ian's parents home. As a schoolboy Ian was a part-time bait packer and later became skipper of the bait boat before becoming the production manager - a position he has now held for five years.
Ian's first-hand experience with the production and distribution side of the company will be invaluable to maintain Ammodytes's high standards. The administrative side will be headed by Michelle, who has a wealth of management and organisational experience to bring to the business, including the setting up and management of the UK division of one of Europe's largest menswear manufacturers. The couple will be supported by the existing well-established and extremely capable office and production teams.
Ian and Michelle hope to expand the business, which employs 12 members of staff plus seasonal workers, as well as self-employed fishermen, who catch the sandeels and mackerel. Plans include moves to encourage and facilitate year-round trade, and increasing and improving the factory's space. A more interactive website is also planned.
Michelle said: "This was a big step for us. Without the support and guidance of James Orpin and Christopher Bowring we would have been totally lost. Chris helped to bring things together and James really knows his stuff, knew what he was doing and made it easy for us.
"Our thanks also go to John Peters at SWIG and David Goodman at Kitchen & Brown Chartered Accountants for their much-valued assistance. If we were mad enough to do this sort of thing again - we would have no hesitation in using exactly the same team."
James Orpin, partner at Stephens & Scown, said: "Ammodytes is an excellent example of a local business that has secured a successful niche for itself. We wish Ian and Michelle well with the continued development of the business."
John Peters, Cornwall fund manager at SWIG, said: "The Tyldesleys are ideally suited to taking over this fantastic local business. It is good news for jobs and the St Ives economy and very appropriate that our Objective One-backed funds should be used in this way."