A clean finish for an old company.

The situation

Sabco (South Australian Brush Company) was established in 1892 and after more than a century was the oldest and most respected brand in the market.

But the inroads of lower-cost imported brushware had eroded its market share over the past decade and brought the company to a crossroads. To compete in the marketplace it needed to invest substantial capital in its ageing Adelaide factory and confront competitors retailing at prices below Australian manufacturing costs.

In these circumstances the shareholders, with Macquarie Bank holding 95 per cent of the equity, were not prepared to make a further investment.

When Sabco announced of the sale of its brand and closure of the SA manufacturing facilities, they chose Hughes PR to manage their communications.


Key internal and external communications objectives for the announcement included:

  • Protecting the Sabco assets (including its brand) for sale.
  • Protecting Macquarie Bank’s reputation (as 95 per cent shareholder).
  • Minimising the impact of the announcement on employees and their families, and maximising opportunities for their re-employment.
  • Avoiding Government involvement and interference in the process.
  • Minimising union-related issues arising from the announcement.


Hughes Public Relations prepared a range of communications for the announcement, including:

  • News Alert to media
  • News release and other media materials
  • Briefing materials for Chairman and senior management
  • Background information on Sabco, and the companies contracted to buy Sabco’s tooling and brands
  • Chairman’s Address to staff
  • Managing Director’s address to staff
  • Information kit for staff including:
  • Letter to Government
  • Letters to suppliers
  • Letters to customers

The results were positive from a communications perspective, with all media coverage reflecting Sabco’s key message that the move was “inevitable and responsible but regrettable.”

Media coverage of the event was largely contained within South Australia and to a two-day window.

In addition, the key internal and external communication goals established at the outset were met in their entirety, as a result of the coordinated preparations for the event and the smooth implementation of the integrated communications program.