Tomkins tires of life as conglomerate

Tomkins is expected to announce further disposals next week that will mark a new focus on food and industrial manufacturing for the £4.5bn-turnover British conglomerate. Sell-offs, to be announced with Tuesday’s interim results, look set to include some of Tomkins’ remaining components distribution businesses, with plans to reduce the number of subsidiaries from 73 to […]

Tomkins is expected to announce further disposals next week that will mark a new focus on food and industrial manufacturing for the £4.5bn-turnover British conglomerate.

Sell-offs, to be announced with Tuesday’s interim results, look set to include some of Tomkins’ remaining components distribution businesses, with plans to reduce the number of subsidiaries from 73 to under 60.

Shares in Tomkins have been under-performing the market for five years, amid a general swing among City investors away from big diversified conglomerates.

Last summer Greg Hutchings, Tomkins chairman, promised to pursue ‘a more pro-active divestment approach’ and set in train moves to reduce cash holdings in the group with a £100m share buy-back.

Tomkins offshoots include food producer Rank Hovis McDougall, bought in 1992 for £925m, and US handgun maker Smith & Wesson. Acquisitions over 14 years has seen group turnover rise from £6m to £4.5bn of which £1.8m comes from UK manufacturing.

Analysts expect Tomkins to replace its seven-way split of activities by three: food manufacture, led by RHM; industrial manufacturing, led by recent acquisitions of two automotive component suppliers Gates and Stant, and including a dozen valves and other industrial product manufacturers in Britain; and building and leisure products in the US.

The expected disposals come in the wake of September’s sale of six process valve distribution companies to Charles Baynes, and the sale of car components distributor Ferraris Pistons 12 months ago.