US giant swoops for wall panel specialist as part of £30m deal

By Grimsby Telegraph | Posted: 4 Dec 2017

A Grimsby-area company described as Europe’s leading wall and shower panel supplier, has changed hands for the second time in a decade, with further ambition for growth outlined.

US giant Wilsonart Engineered Surfaces has swooped for Mermaid Panels, formerly Norske Interiors, and sister company Shore Laminates Ltd, which is based in Scotland in what is understood to be a  £30 million deal.

Formed by long-standing town family business TH Brown in the late-Eighties, Mermaid employs about a dozen people on Laceby Business Park, with no changes to operations envisaged.

The decade has seen staff numbers increase by 50 per cent.

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Tim Pearson, president of Wilsonart Western Europe, part of the £890 million turnover business which employs 4,500 people globally, said: “Shore & Mermaid bring exciting design and innovative products to the market.

“The addition of these two companies to the Wilsonart portfolio reinforces our commitment to providing surfacing solutions for a wide range of interior demands.”

Shore, established in 1991, acquired Mermaid from TH Brown in November 2008.

“Together, the two companies are dedicated to making sensational surfaces affordable through the application of smart material technology, advanced manufacturing processes and innovative design,” the Wilsonart team said. “Their focus on product and process innovation offers their customers the best in quality and design with leading brands within their markets.”

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Tim O’Brien, chief executive, based in Austin, Texas, said: “Shore and Mermaid are good complements to Wilsonart’s other European businesses, including brand leaders Polyrey and Resopal.

“Wilsonart acquired Bushboard, the leading producer of wet wall systems and worktops in 2016. Shore and Mermaid provide additional depth and new technologies to broaden Wilsonart’s engineered surfaces story.

“As part of the Wilsonart portfolio, both brands have significant opportunity to expand into new geographies across Europe.”

Mermaid enjoyed sales of  £5.9 million in 2016, up 13 per cent on 2015’s £5.2 million, and higher than pre-recession levels when the business left Grimsby ownership. Profits were up significantly more year-on-year at £816,141, 45 per cent higher than 2015’s £561,362.

The bath and shower surrounds are the major alternative to tiling, a Norwegian concept adopted from early suppliers to TH Brown, with strong functionality due to the ease of cleaning and installing. Materials range from glass and acrylic to metals, stone and ceramic.

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