20 April 2013

Filofax sold in a new venture

News came out on Saturday night that Filofax has been sold in a new joint venture, Harolde Savoy, whose family owns the Blueline/Rediform stationery supplier group in North America, has agreed to purchase the Letts Filofax Group with its chief Gordon Presly, under the joint venture HSGP Investments.

The story in full was published in the UK newspaper the Daily Telegraph read it in full here:


Rediform are Canadian based stationery company employing over 300 people, they have been around since about 1917, so a similar age to Filofax (1921). They have an existing range of planners and diaries but in a quick scan of their site I didn't see any organiser products.

What they do have is a product they call MiracleBind where you can remove and reposition pages, sound familiar?

I've not as yet seen any announcements other than the news article above, but it looks to me like the companies future has been secured. My main hope/wish is that the established and experienced staff I've had the pleasure to deal with in the last few months have secure jobs for the future.

The story also appears in the Scotsman:


And in STV (Scotland TV)


The timing of this announcement is very interesting... National Stationery Week starts on Monday...

Naturally if I hear more on the new joint venture I will share it with you all.


  1. Although takeover and new ownership is always a worrying time for employees, under UK law, something called TUPE (Transfer of Undertakings, Protection of Employment) guarantees that all employees are transferred with their existing pay and conditions.

    Naturally the new owners will want to make changes in the future, but the most immediate thing for now is having secured agreements over future working capital (in simple language, having enough money to buy materials and products to enable them to carry on trading).

    Of course, this is not the first time that Filofax has been under North American ownership. Day Runner (from California) owned the company from 1998. In what is accepted as a disastrous time for the brand Letts rescued it in 2001 and made it a big success again. Whilst we're now in a market of consolidation they'll be looking to learn the lessons of history, for sure!

    1. I know all about TUPE with my bid writing hat on - and too many times the new company lets the old staff go after six months or so - either redundancy or some other way. It's not the safety net most hope it will be. However if this organisation is based in Canada hopefully they will need local employees in the UK and indeed other countries.

    2. Likewise I went on TUPE transfer back in 2004 only to be made redundant 10 months later. But the TUPE transfer did safeguard my terms and conditions in the first 12 months so that was a saving grace. The pension that was supposed to be equivalent wasn't though.. but I didn't lose much on that.

      As this is a new joint venture I see a sort of transfer of sales may be. Filofax doesn't have a Canadian arm to the business at the moment, all sales are handled by FF USA, so may be that will be the start of new markets for Filofax.

      We don't know what share of the business the Filofax CEO has, is it 50:50 or not? I guess we might hear more in this coming week.

    3. Yes, TUPE only provides protection at the moment of transfer. The new owners can start proposing changes (usually cutbacks) immediately, but tend to "take stock" first.

      My last TUPE experience (in a major UK rail company) was a takeover by an American firm. What worked there was a disaster when imposed on their new UK acquisition . I was glad to be made redundant. Ironically, they sold out completely to the Canadians shortly after as profits tumbled and the company js now owned by the German government (yes, that's right!) after they fared little better!

      Let's hope the Filofax sale turns out to be a positive merger that allows both Canadian// USA and UK arms to prosper.

  2. Steve thanks so much for bringing us this latest news as soon as it's out. I'm absolutely shocked that the French company that makes Quo Vadis did not buy it as I was expecting would happen. However, I'm very interested to see what happens to Filofax and Letts now that a North American company has bought it. I'm assuming the brand will take on more of an American focus, as they mentioned "economy of scale." If they will market more toward the American style, they'll have a much larger population to sell to than in the UK. I hope it will mean wider availability of Filofax products in US retailers!

    I wonder what this will do to Letts' identity as a company. Letts has always been a British company. Now that they are owned by a Texan, how will that affect the "Britishness" of the brand?

    In my personal opinion, I think Letts has been riding on its history for a long time. I'm hoping this new ownership will bring innovative new products and formats to the brand.

    1. It certainly looks an interesting proposition! I think Harolde Savoy is Canadian with the group company based in Quebec (only Rediform that they purchased is from Texas USA). Blueline appears to have evolved over many years as a family-based business. There's an interesting summary at http://bluelineinc.com/vw/ac/c012.htm

      Letts Filofax Group was owned by venture capitalists and we wait to hear their view on their exit from LFG.

    2. The Scotsman article says Savoy lives in Dallas, Texas so I can imagine his marketing strategy might be influenced by the US market.

    3. All looks more like a restructuring and refinancing than a 'new start' The Texan influence will be interesting, and if the new owners have designs on the US market we could see some really horrendous mangling of the brand...but let's hope not.

      I'm also very disappointed that Clarefontaine didn't ultimately tie up the deal, as i thought they would be a really good influence on the direction the brand has been heading in. Ah well......

    4. This Texan is quite interested to know that the new head guy lives in TX.

      Hopefully this will be a good change for Filofax.

    5. As a fellow Texan, I'd like to think that it would make a difference to us living in the same state---but it probably won't. Lots of rich people live in Texas--but have businesses based in other states. It is unlikely it will be based in Canada, due to the fluctuation in the Canadian dollar. They often have branches for manufacturing, but in my best guess it will either base in Los Angeles or NYC.

      The paper quality in the Rediform documents i have used, are far superior to those used by Filofax at present. At least they were from my use in 2000-2009.

  3. Also on STV:


  4. I hope this is a positive move! I too wish Clairefontaine wasn't the buyer! I especially hope Filofax doesn't lose it's British/European look and feel!