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Family businesses merge

Fuel firms join forces in £2.8m deal

L to R: James Bilsland, Jodie Bilsland and Alasdair Swan (Bank of Scotland)

Fuel distribution firm James D Bilsland, based in Drymen, has acquired Kilmarnock company Andrew Gray & Co Fuels for £2.8 million.

The deal has been supported by a £1.6m term loan from the Bank of Scotland.

James D Bilsland is a family business, formed in 1964 and now turns over £16m and employs 30 staff.

Andrew Gray & Co Fuels is an 80 year old distributor and supplier of fuel products. The business has 19 employees.

The two companies will operate 36 lorries from depots in Carlisle, Douglas, Drymen, Kilmarnock, Oban and Rothesay. The combined turnover will be more than £25m. The firms will retain separate brand names following the acquisition. 

Last year, James D Bilsland expanded its operation into renewable energy, with the support of a £600,000 term loan from the Bank of Scotland. The business now produces and supplies wood pellets and wood chips. 

The funds also supported the installation of a CHP biomass unit at the firm’s head office, which is expected to save the business £2m in electricity and heating over the next 20 years. 

James Bilsland, managing director of the family business, said: “We’ve known Andrew Gray & Co for many years and there is a strong synergy between the two businesses. We’re both family businesses and we share many of the same values. The acquisition makes sense on many levels, but also enables us to cover additional geographies, taking us into Ayrshire including the Isle of Arran.” 

Alasdair Swan, relationship director for Bank of Scotland, said: “The acquisition will support the management team’s growth ambitions and firmly cement James D Bilsland’s market leading position.”


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