End of an era as Liverpool’s Benson Signs changes hands
One of Liverpool’s best-known small businesses has changed hands for the first time since it was founded more than 50 years ago.
Chris Benson established the business in 1969. Based at a 50,000 sq ft premises in Great Howard Street in Liverpool’s northern docklands, Benson Signs has provided signage for brands such as Costa Coffee, Subway and Pizza Hut.
It is one of the largest manufacturers of signage in the UK. It was one of the first sign companies to install laser-profiling equipment. And it was also the first to purchase a computerised router, specifically designed for sign manufacture.
Benson Signs is also one of the greenest small businesses in Merseyside. Back in 2001, before hardly anyone was talking about decarbonisation or zero emissions, Chris set the firm on a path towards energy self-sufficiency. Over the years he has installed solar panels, a water harvesting system and a biomass boiler and it now generates 25% of its own energy.
Now Chris has sold Benson Signs to vehicle cleaning specialist LPW Group. Founded in 1972, the group is a UK market leader in fleet and building cleaning and truck wash services. It is led by chief executive Laurie Moon.
The value of the deal was not disclosed. However, according to the most recent filing on Companies House Benson Signs’ net assets total more than £5m. Chris will step away from the business by the end of the year but will be looking to pursue other projects.
LPW Group’s brand portfolio includes LPW Tankwash, LPW Truckwash, Mobile Fleetwash, LPW Fleetcare, LPW Fleetsales, Carlyle, Wilson Contract Services and Pureclean Car Care. Benson Signs’ services complement its existing roster, and the team will be looking to support existing customers with additional products and services.
Chris said: “This is a huge milestone in the history of Benson Signs, and I’m excited to see how the business develops in the coming years with this new partnership. Laurie and the LPW Group team share the same values of ambition and innovation, and I’m sure that working together we will see many successes.”
In an interview with LBN in 2017, Chris explained why he put Benson Signs on its ‘green’ journey. He was made aware that experts at Liverpool John Moores University were offering local companies an environmental analysis.
“They did a forensic analysis of what we were doing and what we could be doing and should be doing,” said Chris. “So we first looked at waste products and recycling and then we stepped up in looking to reduce our carbon footprint in terms of our energy usage.
“These aren’t just a collection of random, crazy ideas. As well as reducing your carbon footprint you are also reducing your costs.”
Liverpool accountancy firm DSG, which has a longstanding relationship with Chris, helped find a buyer for Benson Signs. It found a match through its data and analytics platform, MarkToMarket.
DSG partner Andrew Moss added: “We’ve worked with Benson Signs for more than 40 years and have seen them enjoy enduring success. I was delighted to secure a successful deal for Chris. I’m sure there’s plenty in store under this new partnership.”
Laurie Moon also said: “Benson Signs has a phenomenal regional presence in Liverpool and the North West. We are looking forward to helping this growth across the UK drawing on our expansive network.
“Chris has been a brilliant leader of Benson Signs, and I’m sure this will be an excellent partnership that delivers real value for our customers.”