KPMG appointed to historic silk company administration

17 November 2020 2 min. read
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A silk company which has been trading in a Suffolk town for almost 250 years has gone into administration. With the appointment of administrators from KPMG, half of the Vanners’ staff have been made redundant, while half remain as a buyer is sought.

Silk Industries, which trades as Vanners, was founded in 1740 and moved from London to Suffolk in the late 18th century. The East Anglian county became a major hub of the British silk industry soon after, with silk weaving was thriving by the turn of the 19th century.

Over the last hundred years, Sudbury has continued to supply material for a number of the world’s most prestigious and powerful clients. Silk woven in the town has been worn by the Queen at her coronation, royal brides, former US First Lady Michelle Obama. While the trade is no longer booming like it did in its heyday then, until recently more than 300 people still worked in Sudbury’s silk mills – including Gainsborough Silk, Humphries Weaving, Stephen Walters, alongside Vanners.

KPMG appointed to historic silk company administration

A difficult year of trading has seen Vanners forced to appoint administrators, however. The news has seen 32 of the company’s 64 people made redundant, while the remaining staff stay on to fulfil orders. According to the KPMG professionals overseeing the process, Vanners had been experiencing difficult trading conditions for some time, which were exacerbated by the severe impact of Covid-19 on the fashion sector.”

In 2020, Vanners branched out to make face coverings, to help in the fight against coronavirus. Silk is known as a natural fabric which is smooth and soft, and some scientific surveys have found it to be particularly effective at preventing penetration by droplets.

Vanners was even asked to supply the silk face masks to Wimbledon, which needs them for staff to wear even though the famous tennis championships could not take place this year due to the Covid-19 pandemic. However, the firm’s adaptation to the difficult business environment does not seem to have buoyed demand enough to stave off its current crisis.

Joint administrator James Lumb added, "We intend to fulfil outstanding orders while we seek a buyer for the business, and would encourage any parties who may be interested to contact us as soon as possible. We will also be providing support to those members of staff who have been made redundant."