A 141-year-old fishing-rod maker which counts Prince Charles among its customers has been bought by the US company Pure Fishing.
Hardy & Greys has held royal warrants for more than 100 years and manufactures its products in Alnwick, Northumberland, where it was founded by gunsmith William Hardy in 1872.
The rod and tackle maker's celebrity customers also include Chris Tarrant and Eric Clapton. Its most expensive rods, handmade from split bamboo by master rod-builder Tom Moran, cost £3,595.
According to The Guardian, Hardy also created the first carbon-fibre fishing-rods and later worked with researchers from Cambridge University and 3M to create rods made from the Sintrix carbon-fibre material, which is 60 per cent stronger than other carbon-fibre rods.
Despite its innovations, Hardy & Greys has been struggling in recent times. The global recession saw it plunge into the red with a 2011 loss of £476,000 on £13.4m turnover. Last year it shed 19 employees.
The company was put up for sale last year by Coventry-based Harris & Sheldon, which bought it from the Hardy family in 1967.
Its new owner, South Carolina-based Pure Fishing, has also snapped up Hardy and Greys' subsidiary Hardy Advanced Composites. How much the American firm paid for the two companies has not been disclosed.
Hardy & Greys is the latest well-known British brand to be gobbled up by an overseas buyer. Weetabix was sold to a Chinese food business last year, bicycle-maker Raleigh was snapped up by a Dutch company, and last month Sunseeker, the Poole-based luxury yacht business, was sold to China. ·