An ironmongery firm has will see its turnover almost quadruple from £35 million to more than £130 million after completing a major acquisition.
Willenhall-based Laidlaw Solutions, which makes ironmongery, doors and partitions, has acquired SIG’s Interiors Manufacturing Division (SIGIM) in a deal backed by private equity group Rutland Partners.
The new company will be called Laidlaw Interiors Group and will be jointly owned by John Jefferies, former Laidlaw Solutions owner, and Rutland Partners. Mr Jefferies becomes the new company’s chief executive and it will be one of the UK’s major suppliers to the commercial interiors sector, with more than 1,000 employees.
The company will have a market leading range of doorsets, ironmongery and partitions.
The SIG companies acquired include door manufacturer Leaderflush Shapland and office and glazed partition manufacturer Komfort Workspace, as well as Cubicle Systems washrooms and Tufwell Glass and Blinds.
Laidlaw dates back 150 years and made its name as an ironmonger. It has since grown a successful doors business, catering in particular for schools and hospitals and the commercial sector in general.
Explaining the rationale behind the takeover, group commercial director Peter O’Brien said: “They all sit in some way quite nicely beside Laidlaw and its ironmongery business, which is quite interiors focused by its nature.
“It has taken us from about £35 million to £130 million turnover, which is quite a significant reverse takeover but all the businesses fit together very well. Although a big acquisition for Laidlaw the fit is perfect as it’s our core business.
“We went into this with a view to consolidating, developing and expanding our doors business but the fit of the other divisions was so obvious it made sense.”
SIG is a Sheffield based multi-billion pound building products distribution business and Mr O’Brien said it wanted to concentrate on its core distribution operations.
The deal was made easier due to Laidlaw performing strongly in the recession, as Mr O’Brien explained.
“Our business has done well relative to the rest of the construction market because we are quite focused we have been able to do better than most.
“We have grown a reasonably successful business in difficult market conditions. I hope we can now apply some of the customer focus to the larger group. It will be a very totally integrated group.”
Mr O’Brien said new stringent fire safety regulations which will come into effect in 2013 make the businesses an ideal fit.
Doors and partitions that take ironmongery in some form or other can be part-made with fixtures or fittings being added later by builders or joiners.
But the European CE quality market will mean from 2013 every door that requires a fire rating will need to have been tested as a complete entity and therefore require ironmongery to be integrated.
Mr O’Brien said: “Regulation is determining the market. It started with toys and furniture and in 2013 it is extending to fire doors.
“Doors will need to be CE marked to be sold in the market and this CE mark will need to be supplied with ironmongery fitted. It will need to have been tested in that particular door’s construction.
“It’s a regulatory driver and one of the reasons the marriage of ironmongery and door sets makes a lot of commercial sense. It makes a lot of sense for us to combine them from a business point of view.”
As far as the future is concerned Mr O’Brien is optimistic but remains realistic about the continuing tough times facing the construction sector. However there are plans to restructure and invest in the acquired business.
He added: “The industry is extremely difficult but we have still managed to grow the business in a significantly declining market and it is probably likely things are going to get worse before they get better – certainly in the public sector
“With public sector cuts it is inevitably going to impact upon the market but we do see signs of recovery in the commercial market as a result of pent-up demand.”