A BUSINESSMAN who is set to become the new owner of struggling conservatory firm Ultraframe today insisted he wanted to rebuild its success story.

Company bosses at Clitheroe have accepted a £58million offer to sell the firm, and the future of the Ribble Valley's largest employer is now in the hands of shareholders.

They must now decide whether or not they want the firm to be sold in the coming weeks.

If the deal goes through, Ultraframe's bosses, including founder John Lancaster and Vanda Murray, UK managing director, will step down.

And new owners Latium Holdings, led by Sale Sharks rugby team owner and double glazing millionaire Brian Kennedy and accountant Stuart Lees, are expected to reorganise the company.

Ultraframe has struggled in recent years, but is an established name in the conservatory business. Mr Lancaster, who still owns 16 per cent of the shares, is said to be backing the bid.

Mr Lees said: "This is very positive for the people on the ground. The Latium approach is that we invest in management teams and we think that the management team at Ultraframe UK in Clitheroe are an excellent bunch of people.

"It's very early days but our hope and expectation is that we will be growing the business and returning it to its former position and that can only bring in more investment and secure and protect the jobs, which are obviously very important to the local community."

A spokesman for Ultraframe said it would be business as usual until the deal was finalised but admitted there was some uncertainty among staff.

Ultraframe plc employs 1,200 people worldwide with a total turnover in excess of £145million. It was set up in 1983 by John Lancaster, then floated on the stock exchange in 1997 at the height of its success.

But difficult market conditions and a drop in sales has caused problems for the firm in recent years, and in February it announced its operating profit was £5.2million, down more than 66 per cent from £15.4million in 2004.

If the new deal goes ahead, Latium, a firm set up to carry out the Ultraframe deal, will have complete control over the firm, and plan on taking it private and off the stock market. But it is not thought the deal which will include the cost of taking on Ultraframe debts and costs as well as paying nearly £30million for the company's shares will mean job losses.

Rod Sellers, chairman of Ultraframe, said: "The board has undertaken a full strategic review and has concluded that as trading conditions remain difficult, shareholders and employees will be best served by shareholders accepting this offer."

Mr Kennedy, who has an estimated fortune of £350million, said: "I look forward to working with all the Ultraframe people."