IMI plc is establishing a European base for its retail displays business with its takeover of England's Artform International Ltd. for £47 million ($78 million), in cash and assumed debt.
Birmingham, England-based IMI's merchandising business now is concentrated in North America, thanks to several U.S. acquisitions during the past two years.
Under the Oct. 8 deal, IMI bought a 93 percent stake in Artform of Loughborough, England, from European private equity firm Bridgepoint. The remaining 7 percent will be held by the Artform management team, which will remain in place, IMI announced.
Artform, which recorded a pretax profit of £4.3 million ($7 million) on annual sales of £33 million ($55 million) for the fiscal year ended in March, employs 425 and runs more than 30 injection molding machines with clamping forces up to 880 tons at its single Loughborough site.
The company vacuum forms patterns and has mold-making and plastic fabrication sections. A large assembly section employs about 250, and Artform has established an experienced display design department. Clients include Ford Motor Co., Kodak, Nestle, Nike and cosmetics groups including L'Oreal.
All but a small percentage of Arform's sales are in European markets, including major shares in the cosmetic, tobacco and leisure products sectors, according to IMI.
The acquisition not only broadens IMI's scope geographically, but brings the group ``a strong client list in growth sectors,'' according to IMI Chief Executive Officer Martin Lamb.
``The acquisition ... provides us with a platform in the European point-of-purchase display market and positions us better to serve our global clients with cross-border retail and brand-marketing expertise,'' Lamb said in a news release.
The addition of Artform to IMI's merchandising systems division will take its annual sales to about $300 million.
IMI operates three businesses in the United States serving a range of sectors from beverage, food and confectionery to automotive and packaged goods. Last year IMI added DCI Marketing Inc. of Milwaukee to its other two operations, Display Technologies Inc. of New York, acquired in 2001, and Cannon Merchandising Co. of Rosemount, Minn.
Meantime, IMI continues to look for buyers for its Polypipe plastics pipe and fittings business in Doncaster, England. The unit has been for sale since 2001.