British luxury paint and wallpaper brand Farrow & Ball has been acquired by Hempel, a Danish company that manufactures coatings for the decorative, marine, infrastructure and energy industries. The sale, for a reported $687 million (580 million euros), was first announced in May.
Known for its tightly curated palette of water-based paints, Farrow & Ball was founded in 1946, and was previously owned by the private equity group Ares Management Corporation, which bought the brand in 2014 for around $400 million (275 million pounds). “The private equity business model is to own companies, help add value, grow them, and ultimately sell, so an acquisition was always going to happen,” says Anthony Davey, CEO of Farrow & Ball. “We’ve had huge success over the last few years, so the timing was good. Hempel and Farrow & Ball share a similarly strong heritage, similar sustainability values and a growth mindset, so the cultural fit is good [as well].”
With the acquisition, Hempel, which has been based in Copenhagen since the company’s founding in 1915, hopes to double its revenue to $3.5 billion (3 billion euros) by 2025 and expand Farrow & Ball into a global brand. “Today, Farrow & Ball has direct operations in four countries, and Hempel is in over 100 countries,” says Davey. “The Hempel Group will enable Farrow & Ball to accelerate its growth by gaining access to Hempel’s strong global distribution network and long-term trade credentials.”
Davey says that the first step toward the brand’s growth will be to expand in its existing markets. “We are keen to accelerate the business where we already have direct operations on the ground by growing the awareness and availability of the brand and enabling consumers to try the product,” he explains. “For example, our North American business is growing more than 30 percent, but we still have low brand awareness and a small market share. The potential there is huge, and the same can be said for France and Germany.” There are also plans to expand the company’s e-commerce presence, which currently accounts for 30 percent of its business.
The creative, technical and manufacturing teams for the heritage paint brand will all remain under the same roof in Dorset, England, the company’s headquarters for its entire 75-year history. All 600 of Farrow & Ball’s employees are expected to be kept on, as well.
Davey is confident that the brand can grow while still maintaining the point of view that has made it a design industry favorite: “Our eyes and ears will be open to ensure the brand remains relevant and contemporary, but our experience in manufacturing high-quality products won’t change.”
Homepage photo: A room done in a hue from Farrow & Ball | Courtesy of Farrow & Ball