Audio Visual entrepreneur John Sills to retire
One of the AV industry's leading innovators is to step down after almost fifty years of success. Chairman and managing director of Saville Audio Visual, John Sills has announced he is to retire in April after a career spanning 48 years with the company.
Born in Nottingham, he joined the family-owned business in 1968, setting up an AV department at the Saville photographic shop in York – at that time the company’s only premises. He then built a nationwide sales team and established a unique network of regional centres across the UK.
His ideas and a fierce commitment to quality and innovation saw the company become a major player in the AV sales, systems integration and rental markets, winning more than thirty national awards. His notable initiatives have included pioneering AV control systems, in-house furniture manufacturing plus the first website by an AV reseller.
As MD, John masterminded a management buy-out from the Saville family in 1996. He continued to grow the business, winning many corporate, education and government contracts and taking the company’s turnover past £41m last year.
Sills retirement signals another chapter in the company’s history with an MBO by the remaining directors and key members of the senior management team, most of whom have been with the company for thirty years on average. The buy-out has been funded in association with the Yorkshire Bank by a team led by Kris Keen, Senior Director Corporate and Structured Finance, Clydesdale and Yorkshire Banks. Commenting on the transaction Keen said: “We are focused on supporting regional economies throughout the UK and we were delighted to have the opportunity to work with the management team on this landmark transaction. Saville is a fantastic Yorkshire success story and we have delivered a bespoke funding structure that provides flexibility for the business to enable continued market success. Saville has performed incredibly well on the back of a growth strategy implemented by the new owners which is forecast to continue.”
Leading Yorkshire commercial law firm Lupton Fawcett advised on the legal aspects of the ownership change with the documents being signed at the firm’s offices on Piccadilly in York. Corporate Finance Directors Martin Frost and Andrew Lindsay led the legal team and Martin said “Saville is one of the great Yorkshire success stories and its history is as fascinating as it is long and illustrious. We were delighted to be asked to play a part in this latest chapter and assist with the MBO. From the outset, all parties were keen to ensure a seamless transition and by working closely with John and the management team over several months we were able to structure a deal that does exactly that. Looking forward, we wish Andy, Colin and the team every success.”
Following the handover John commented on the move: “I am confident that I’m leaving the company in excellent hands and would like to take the opportunity to thank the entire Saville team for their loyalty and commitment over many years, as well as the suppliers and manufacturers who have supported the company and continue to do so.”
Sales & Marketing Director Andy Dyson said: “John has been instrumental in building Saville into a major player in the AV/IT installation and live events sectors and the new management team are determined to build on his legacy”. This is a view shared by Finance Director Colin Nixey who confirmed “John is leaving the Company in an excellent position following a third successive record year in 2016 and we are planning to continue this growth and expansion over the Company’s next chapter”.
With a lifelong interest in photography, cars and flying model aircraft John is looking forward to a busy retirement, especially with two new acquisitions of his own – a 1939 MG SA and a classic British racing green 1970 MGB roadster.
L-R Colin Etchells, Andy Dyson (Sales & Marketing Director) Kris Keen (Yorkshire Bank) Martin Frost (Lupton Fawcett) Graham Carling (Saville) Andrew Lindsay (Lupton Fawcett) John Sills (Saville) Ann Pickard (Saville) and Colin Nixey (Finance Director)