British United Shoe Machinery (BUSM) Ltd. was the head office in Leicester, England of a company which for most of the 20th century was the world's largest manufacturer of footwear machinery and materials, exporting shoe machinery to more than 50 countries. In the 1960s and 1970s, it was Leicester’s biggest employer employing more than 4,500 locally and 9500 worldwide. Most of the workforce was recruited via an apprentice scheme which trained a large proportion of Leicester’s engineers. The company had "a respected reputation for technical innovation and excellence", between 1898 and 1960, it developed and marketed nearly 800 new and improved shoe machines and patented more than 9,000 inventions, at one time employing 5% of the UK's patent agents.
The collapse of the company in October 2000 destroyed the pensions of the workers. Their story became "one of the most vivid examples of what can go wrong with..Private Equity" and brought "shame on Apax." The company subsequently went into administrative receivership and was the subject of a management buyout. This new company itself went into administration in September 2006. In November 2006 a new independent company, Advent Technologies Ltd, was formed by former workers of BUSM providing technical support, advice and spare parts for the range of BUSM machinery.
Read more about British United Shoe Machinery: Formation, Expansion and Business Strategy, Shoe Components, Great Depression and WW2, Monopoly and Breakup, Decline, Partial Recovery and Return To Private Ownership, Failed Flotation, Apax Partners and Pension Collapse, Aftermath., BUSM Factory Site, BU History Group Lottery Project
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