Less than one month after writing about how industry consolidation might be over for the year, I get proved absolutely wrong, with Polyframe announcing that they had acquired the WB Group. In fact I even predicted that I could be proved wrong!
And wrong I was. The Polyframe deal is their first since their management led buy-out in July of this year, and breaks the lull in industry consolidation action, after a freeze on deals in the lead up to the EU referendum vote.
This is my analysis of the acquisition and what it means for those involved.
Polyframe flexing their spending power
July’s management led buy-out wasn’t just a consolidation of their own business. It was much more a re-positioning of the company to allow it to expand and grow their influence and market share. This is a much easier said than done task.
The fabrication market in PVCu is generally on the decline. A change in home owner tastes now incorporates much more timber and aluminium. That is why Polyframe bought an aluminium business, Advanced Aluminium, not so long ago, spotting the signs of change.
It is clear that their aims is to not only to expand into new expanding areas, like aluminium, but to also win extra market share in a part of the market that is shedding dead wood, namely the PVCu part of the market.
This is Polyframe’s first flexing of their spending power since their July buy-out, and the WB Group is a very big purchase, for both companies.
About WB Group
The WB Group is a fabricator of PVCu windows and doors, infill door panels and GRP Composite doors. They were founded in 1981, which makes the business 35 years old. This is old in PVCu fabrication years and I am sure that this was an impressive bullet point in the resume of the company when Polyframe came knocking.
They are based in Birtley in the North East and they operate out of a 70,000 square foot factory. An operation of this size and space will have made the business attractive. You can do a lot with 70,000 square feet.
WB Group boasts a five day turnaround on their products, with their own branded fleet of vehicles.
So, we have here a 35 year old business packed full of experience and longevity, a 70k square foot factory, a ready made fleet of delivery vehicles, already producing windows and doors, as well as composite doors and panels. If there was a business that was going to tick all of the boxes for Polyframe, this was going to be it. A business in many ways already very similar to Polyframe.
Their statement about the acquisition made no mention of the future of both companies, however I would expect some changes at WB Group in the coming months. Branding may be swapped over during the next 6-12 months. That ready-to-go delivery fleet will make a good place to start. Product portfolios may be tweaked to bring them fully in line with Polyframe suites. There’s no mention of jobs, but if the business is already working well, I would expect minimum streamlining.
A group on the move
I think we can all be clear on one thing here, Polyframe is a group on the move. Perhaps even another super-group. Some might argue that it is already such a thing.
This is a company that doesn’t intend on being second to anyone, and their recent string of acquisitions show clearly that they are transforming their group to fit an industry that is very quickly changing.
I doubt they will be buying anyone else before the end of the year, although I could be wrong again! But I would keep an eye on Polyframe in 2017. We’re in a period of rapid change in UK fenestration, and they may well be looking at further acquisition targets in the near future to help them adapt to that.
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