Fine Art pays 13.5m pounds for James Galt

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The Independent Online
JAMES GALT, the toymaker that has been at the centre of many British childhoods for more than 150 years, has been swallowed up by Fine Art Developments, the mail order and greeting cards group.

Fine Art is to pay pounds 13.5m cash for the business, which was founded in 1836 and is owned largely by the Offer family.

Galt, based in Manchester, makes and supplies pre-school and educational aids, play materials and playground equipment. It made profits of pounds 1.4m before tax in the year to 28 February.

Its toys, which trade under the Galt brand, are sold by most big retailers in Britain, and it also has operations in Canada and the United States.

Fine Art said Galt would complement Hope Education, the educational supplies business it bought in 1989, although no decision had been taken to merge operations.

Keith Chapman, Fine Art's chairman, said the deal fully met his company's stringent criteria for acquisitions.

'Not only does it strengthen part of our core activity, but it also provides wider and exciting opportunities for further development of the group,' he said.

Fine Art last month reported profits of pounds 34.4m before tax.

Its gearing at the end of the year, including finance leases, was 38 per cent.

Its shares closed a penny higher at 550p. They have climbed almost 200p since September.