New Jersey–based fabric, wallcoverings and furniture brand Thibaut has changed hands. The company announced today that it had been purchased by Minneapolis-based private equity firm Norwest Equity Partners. The terms of the deal were not disclosed.
“[It was] a relatively quick process,” Thibaut CEO Rick Kilmer tells Business of Home. “At some point when the value is right and the macro conditions are right, there’s an opportunity for a transaction like this to happen. Once a courtship began in the summer, it went pretty quickly. We’re really excited about the great team and leadership at NEP.”
The deal is the latest link in a long chain of private equity ownership for Thibaut. In 2005, the company’s management and The Riverside Company bought the brand from specialty coatings manufacturer RPM International; in 2014, Thibaut management and Champlain Capital became co-owners; then, in 2017, the company was purchased by St. Louis–based private equity firm Harbour Group.
Like many private equity firms, Thibaut’s new owners have a variety of companies in their portfolio, ranging from produce distribution brand Bix to aviation maintenance provider West Star. But they have some experience in home as well—Norwest Equity Partners also owns Texas-based whole home brand Arteriors. “There’s something compelling and intimate about the interiors community and the trade community,” says Kilmer. “Knowing NEP has been so successful with Arteriors certainly helps break the ice.”
The change in ownership comes at a heady time for both the broader home business and Thibaut in particular. Like many companies in the industry, it has experienced pandemic-inspired revenue growth (Kilmer says 2020 was a record-breaking year for the company and that 2021 is on course to be the same). However, it was already in the middle of big changes, even before COVID turned the industry upside down.
When Kilmer took over in June of 2019, the company was dealing with the dissolution of its largest showroom partner, Robert Allen Duralee; moving its distribution warehouse and logistics operations to North Carolina; and implementing a new ERP (enterprise resource planning) system. Kilmer says the investments in Thibaut’s infrastructure were “a whirlwind,” but they positioned the company to take advantage of the surge in demand. He adds that the goal for the time being is to extend the tailwinds and continue to grow.
“We’re evaluating new technologies, we’re going to continue to evolve our distribution center down in Charlotte, we’re always looking to recruit and retain amazing new people,” says Kilmer. “And then new products—we added new categories in 2021: tape and trim and some sheers. [Under NEP’s ownership], there’ll be more of the same.”
Homepage photo: Courtesy of Thibaut