Melbourne, Australia — Australian-owned housewares company Décor Corp. Pty. Ltd. has been sold for the second time in its 59-year history.
The new purchaser is Marlin Home, a unit of Cape Town, South African-based Coast2Coast Capital, which was founded in 2007 and invests in a portfolio of companies around the globe, taking “semi-active ownership.”
Marlin bought Décor from Graeme Wilson, who bought it in 2013 from its founder Brian Davis.
Wilson, 58, will remain in a consultancy role with Décor for at least three years.
Wilson also is managing director at Melbourne-based Garden City Plastics Pty. Ltd., a family business established in 1975 by his father, Len. Garden City manufactures injection molded garden pots and is a contract manufacturer for Décor, producing about 50 percent of its Australian-made products.
Wilson said he bought Décor because of the “synergies between the two companies.” He sold it for a similar reason. Marlin Home approached Wilson, who said he was willing to sell only if all manufacturing currently conducted onshore remained in Australia and Décor's 84 employees retained their jobs.
“Without that, there was no deal,” Wilson told Plastics News. He sold the Décor name and its intellectual property, but Garden City will continue manufacturing Décor products.
Wilson will not name the price, citing a confidentiality agreement.
Marlin has signed a 10-year contract for Garden City to continue manufacturing Décor products. Other products are made by Multan Plastics Pty. Ltd., based in Brooklyn, Australia, which is a suburb of Melbourne.
Garden City is currently moving to a renovated former auto manufacturing plant in nearby Dandenong, where it will manufacture its garden pots and Décor products. Wilson said Garden City has invested A$10 million (US$7.6 million) in the new plant and warehouse.
He said about 15 to 20 percent of Décor's products are made in China and he brought more manufacturing to Australia when he bought the company.
Marlin Home said in a statement it is “committed to maintaining the brand's current focus on quality Australian design and manufacturing.”
Marlin Managing Director Greg Kerr said Décor will focus on growth in the Australian market through product innovation and look at exports “in a serious manner, given the market size internationally. Globally, there's a customer appetite for quality, particularly in plastics used to store food and drinks, and Décor is a trusted brand manufactured to the highest standards.”
Décor's 450 products include kitchen containers, insulated cooler bags, hydration bottles and garden products.
Marlin Home is already in the Australian housewares business. It paid more than A$50 million in mid-2016 for Melbourne-based wholesaler Albi Pty. Ltd., which has 36 brands.
Marlin said it plans to buy “at least four more quality Australian brands in 2017 ahead of a potential Australian Securities Exchange listing in the next few years.”
Garden City, which employs 250, began as a family-run nursery business. “In the 1970s, when plastic pots were replacing terracotta, we couldn't get enough pots,” Wilson said.
His father started manufacturing his own and bought out several competitors to become one of Australia's largest pot manufacturers.
Wilson and his brother, John, are Garden City's shareholders and Wilson said the family ownership will continue. He has three sons and a daughter working in the business and a succession plan in place.
John Wilson also is managing director of Melbourne-based recycler Polymer Processors Pty. Ltd. and polyethylene rotational molding powder manufacturer Micropellets Pty. Ltd.
Wilson said Décor's founder, Brian Davis, now 87 and retired, is aware of the sale. “He understands that growing the brand overseas requires a partner,” Wilson said.
In a 2012 interview, when he put the company on the market, Davis told Plastics News that Décor first started exporting in 1960, initially to Singapore, the United Kingdom and Japan. Décor's most successful product is a portable wine cooler with a frozen chiller that slides into a plastic carry case between two bottles. The award-winning product is included in the New York Museum of Modern Art's permanent collection.