MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA (May 25, 2:20 p.m. ET) — Brian Davis, the 82-year-old owner of Australian housewares company Décor Corp. Pty. Ltd., says he's ready for a change.
After 54 years, Davis has put his company on the market. Though he's not in a hurry to sell it, he said, he “needs a change.”
He's received “a lot of interest” from potential buyers in Australia, the U.S., China and India since he put it up for sale late last year. He would not provide further information on the price, the sale or its progress.
Décor, based in Scoresby, 15 miles from Melbourne's central business district, manufactures mainly polypropylene products. Décor's 450 products include kitchenware, food-storage containers, wine coolers, picnicware, gardenware, cleaning products, cooler bags and baby-care products.
The company has 12 brands: Décor Cook, Tellfresh, Microsafe, FoodFresh, Thermoglass, Pumped, RealSeal, Décor Speed, Décor Garden, Bright&Healthy, Décor Style and Wash-up.
The company's annual sales are between US$51.7 million and US$77.5 million, according to Décor's website, though Davis would not confirm whether that figure is accurate. The company employs more than 100.
Davis' first product was a plastic tumbler in a plastic case. “That was the product that really got the business off the ground,” he said.
Décor's most successful product is a two-bottle portable wine cooler that allows patrons to take their own drinks to restaurants. The insulated container has a removable wine chiller. When filled with water and frozen, the chiller slides into the plastic case between two bottles, keeping them cold.
The award-winning product is included in the New York Museum of Modern Art's permanent collection, Davis said.
Davis' career began in one of Australia's large grocery chains, Coles. He was interested in the store's merchandise and said he was skilled at picking quick-selling products. After being promoted to store manager, he completed internal training to learn about product buying.
He later joined his uncle's toy company as sales manager, but was keen to convince his uncle to manufacture housewares. He worked at a California-based plastics company for a year, and his desire to design and manufacture housewares grew when he returned to Australia, he said. In 1958, he formed Décor, which was originally called Brian Davis and Co. Pty. Ltd.
Décor first started exporting in 1960, to Singapore, the United Kingdom and Japan. It now also exports to the U.S., Malaysia, New Zealand, Canada, Dubai, Turkey and Papua New Guinea.
About 75 percent of the company's products are manufactured in Australia; the rest are made in China. Davis would not identify the company's contractor in China, but he said Décor started manufacturing there in 1980.
In 1986, Décor began manufacturing in Compton, Calif. It sold the U.S. arm in 1993. Davis said the company was affected by financial difficulties in the late 1980s and the U.S. operation was slowing down production.