Skate Maker Sells To US Investment Group

Irwin Mitchell Sheffield Advises On The Deal


The Sheffield office of Irwin Mitchell has advised HD Sports on its sale to a US-based private investment group.

The business, which made the figure skate blades used by every single medallist at the Winter Olympics in Sochi, has been acquired by the investor group of Robert Donahoe and Paul Harrity for a significant undisclosed sum.

For the past three years, operating as HD Sports NA, the business has been the exclusive distributor of MK and John Wilson ice skate blades in North America.

Following the deal Tom Cantwell of HD Sports NA has been promoted to managing director of global operations and will be relocating to Sheffield. The new owners have also announced that they plan to keep all manufacturing, research and development in Sheffield.

Tom Cantwell said: "The HD Sports management team have done an excellent job managing the MK and John Wilson brands. I am excited to be working closely with such a dedicated and committed staff. Our goal will be to make our blades more readily available and accessible to our loyal clients."

HD Sports has rich heritage and can trace its South Yorkshire roots back to the 17th century when Royal toolmaker and Sheffield engineer John Wilson started making blades. Renowned engineers Hattersley & Davidson acquired the firm in the early 20th century and further developed John Wilson's reputation for innovation. The business became HD Sports when skate company Mitchel & King joined the business in 1997.

Matt Ainsworth, Corporate Partner at Irwin Mitchell in Sheffield, led a team which advised the shareholders of HD Sports. He said:

Expert Opinion
This deal illustrates the region’s rich manufacturing heritage along with its attractiveness to international investment. We were delighted to have advised on this transaction and wish the business a successful future as it continues to expand both here in the UK and overseas.”
Matt Ainsworth, Partner

Earlier this month, Irwin Mitchell announced that the number of deals involving Yorkshire-based manufacturing firms reached its highest level for six years. According to the latest data, Yorkshire manufacturers were the target of 28 deals during the third quarter of 2014.

Recent deals that Irwin Mitchell has advised on  include Samuel Hodge’s purchase of Mac’Ants and the provision of a new £25m finance package for Sheffield-based Pressure Technologies.