Lavelle’s newly formed company, Loseley Dairy Ice Cream, inherits the business and assets of Hill Station, but will not inherit the company’s debt. Lavelle said the new company had sufficient capital to meet its needs for the forseeable future, and would return to profit in “about a year” through cost savings. Hill Station produces own-label ice cream, in addition to the Loseley and Granelli brands, which it acquired through takeovers.
“Hill Station’s investments were not always the best,” said Lavelle. “The original owners went on an acquisition spree and overpaid for several companies. When this was coupled with ambitious growth targets, which did not materialise, the company was left without the profits and cash to continue.
“Our plan is to reduce overheads significantly. We have plenty of capital to run the business and plan to pull efficiency savings to break even, then look to see where we can increase margins. This is a hands-on, lean, keen business.”
There would be about 10 job losses from Hill Station, Lavelle said, mainly “the expensive ones at the top”. None of the old directors would be retained at the company, he said, in order to communicate Loseley’s intention to run the business differently. Although he admitted the old directors were “good people” who had not had sufficient time to turn the business around, he said he could not afford to employ two managing directors.