Money and Finance

Buyers are being sought for Norville Group after 130-plus staff lose their jobs

Written by: Andrew Merrell | Posted 07 July 2020 7:39

After weeks of speculation about its future, and news last week its opticians have been saved, there is bad news for the remaining staff Norville’s Gloucester headquarters. 

Founded 120-plus years ago and famous for making the spectacles of iconic Indian lawyer and social activist, Mahatma Gandhi, the Magdala Road firm last week confirmed the sale of its opticians to Hakim Group. 

The move brought the promises of job security for the 50 staff of the opticians, but it is now confirmed the group itself has now gone into administration with the loss of more than 130 staff so far. Not all jobs are in Gloucestershire. 

BDO LLP business restructuring partners, Simon Girling and Christopher Marsden, were appointed Joint Administrators over The Norville Group Limited, on Friday, July 3. 

The business is based primarily in Gloucestershire - where 125 jobs will go - but has sites in Bolton, Seaham and Livingston, and is described as “a leading, independent and long-established, manufacturer of ophthalmic lenses, supplying optical retailers with complete spectacles, including well-known brands”. 

It employed 162 staff based across the four sites. One hundred and thirty-four of those have now been made redundant upon appointment. 

A skeleton staff of 28 has been retained by BDO “to help achieve an orderly winding up of the business, before realising the assets of the company for the benefit of creditors”.  

Mr Girling, BDO business restructuring partner, said: “Unfortunately the ongoing economic climate and difficult trading conditions meant that we were unable to sell the business as a whole. 

“However, we are hopeful of securing a sale of parts of the business and associated assets and would encourage interested parties to get in touch.” 

Norville Group's head office: Picture credit: Imagery ©2018 Google maps, Map data ©2018 Google

Hakim Group, the new owners of Norville Opticians immediately spoke out to confirm jobs at its newly acquired arm of the business were safe. 

The former retail division of the group has nine practices in and around Gloucestershire, Cheltenham and Stonehouse. 

New investment from Hakim Group “involves a transformation programme, which includes shared ownership opportunities for existing employees, along with significant enhancements to the product offering as well as the customer experience”.

Read more: Jobs saved as family firm and household name sold after 100 years

Hakim’s investment was for the optical retail business and does not include Norville’s laboratories, which entered administration on Friday. 

Adrian Street, director at Norville Opticians, said: “The future is bright for Norville Opticians and our teams are as committed as ever to deliver the highest quality eyecare and eyewear. 

“Our best wishes go to the Norville Group and hope the good people there see a positive outcome, and they come out of this situation stronger than when they entered it.”

Luke Wren, head of business development at the Hakim Group, said: “Job security for colleagues will always be our priority, no matter the circumstances, but I can reassure team members’ jobs within the retail division will not be affected by the Norville Group’s administration. 

“We’re incredibly excited for the opportunities that lie ahead in unleashing the full potential of Norville Opticians for our colleagues who work there. 

Hakim Group said its “full investment and transformation programme” for Norville Opticians would include shared ownership opportunities for some of the existing employees. 

Administrators BDO is now “inviting offers for residual parts of the business and assets from interested parties”. 

Interested parties should contact mike.griffiths@bdo.co.uk and simon.barrington@bdo.co.uk.

Read more: Jobs saved as family firm and household name sold after 100 years

(First published by The Raikes Journal on Monday, July 6 at 3pm.)