Gentoo buys up stricken solar glass maker Romag

Date: 13 April 2011
Source: Gentoo Group
PROPERTY firm Gentoo Group has bought the trade and assets of fellow North East company Romag after the County Durham specialist glass maker went into administration.

The solar glass and composite supplier called in administrator Deloitte to discuss its options late last month after failing to raise necessary funds to continue.

A deal has subsequently been struck with Ask the Genie Ltd and Ask Genie Limited, which are newly-incorporated subsidiaries of the Sunderland property and construction company.

Gentoo’s chief executive Peter Walls confirmed it has secured all 161 jobs at the Leadgate company, and would be encouraging it to continue offering its range of products for the security, architectural and specialist transport markets. He said: “There’s no plan to change the number of staff or their terms and conditions. We’ve been encouraging them to expand and continue with the projects they’re involved in, although it is early days.”

Romag was established in 1943 and has been one of the region’s most active companies in the renewable energy sector, a drive widely credited to the vision of its chief executive Lyn Miles.

However, Miles passed away last June. The company was also hit by the suspension of its shares from AIM in January, after chairman John Kennair disclosed he made a payment of £3.97m into trading subsidiary Romag Limited without informing the board.

Deloitte told nebusiness the company identified a short-term requirement of £2.2m early this year, prompted by a need for inventory investment and a “weaker than forecast sales performance during the winter months”. However, it was unable to raise this money and its directors called in Deloitte with a view of arranging a sale.

It added it received “a number of offers” for Romag, and a team of specialists from Deloitte and Leeds-based lawyers Walker Morris advised on the deal.

Gentoo’s Peter Walls said the company had worked alongside Romag over the last few years, and was discussing a possible joint venture with the firm to further improve energy efficiency of its portfolio of 30,000 properties.

Gentoo had already trained a number of employees in its construction division in the installation of solar panels, and was working on retrofitting many of its properties with such features.

Walls said: “I think Romag has an interesting range of products and there are opportunities for those in the housing world. I’d like Romag to remain a business in its own right within Gentoo. It’s not as if we’re melding it with anything else.

“It’s a great company with a great reputation, but the uncertainty has certainly hurt it. We’re hoping to lift that off its shoulders and allow it to fulfil its potential. When the Coalition came to power, and even before that, it seemed like the green agenda provided a real opportunity.

“We’re all under international targets to make carbon reductions and the Government is constantly reviewing its approach to incentives.

“Housing accounts for about 25% of carbon emissions, so it’s a big challenge and a remarkable opportunity.”

600450 Gentoo buys up stricken solar glass maker Romag
Date: 13 April 2011
Source: Gentoo Group

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