Why did we acquire a business during lockdown?

Gareth Jones, Profine UK’s managing director, outlines the rationale for the recent investment in assets from the former Aperture Group, which include the Evolve, Legend and WarmCore brands. He also explains his future vision for Profine in the UK.

It’s been no secret that as a group we have been looking at our own manufacturing facility in the UK for some time now, having previously been linked to another UK systems house and also having assessed the requirements for a brand-new plant.

With a particularly strong performance over the last 18 months, the need for such a facility had become a very high priority project for Profine Group.

The benefits of acquiring an existing business are clear in that plant and machinery, along with skilled personnel, could be readily on hand right from day one. With rumours circulating about Aperture Trading in financial difficulty earlier this year, we quickly took notice as the size and scale of operation and location were ideal.

Once the administrators were appointed, we moved quickly with the strong backing of our parent company Profine Group GmbH; this at a time when the UK and Germany were on full lockdown. So, the challenges were considerable, and it’s taken several phone calls, video conference calls and the minimum of face-to-face meetings to get the deal done.

We’ve essentially bought all the assets from the administrators, apart from the roofing systems which were sold to the Latium Group. There are some strong brands here that we believe have an important part to play in the development of Profine UK, along with our flagship Kömmerling brand, which has enjoyed considerable recent growth.

Legend is one of the PVCU window and door systems that we have inherited and we will look to invest in this cost-effective platform, while the Evolve vertical sliding sash brand provides us with a vertical sliding system, and one that we already have firm product development plans in place for. Arguably, WarmCore is the brand that we feel has the most potential, as we can open up export opportunities for this system relatively easily, and North America and Australasia markets are an obvious sales channel.

Ultimately, while we have acquired several brands and systems, the fact is that we now have a UK extrusion facility that includes a mixing plant, and is one that has considerable capacity in terms of the tonnes we can extrude each year. Depending upon our group strategy we can also extrude other systems in the UK for export markets, and with the only injection moulding facility in the group, we have other inter-company sales opportunities to consider.

Now that the ink has dried on all the paperwork, our task is to integrate all the businesses on this super-site and so we’ll be looking to close our Fradley Park facility within the next 12 months. To ensure we keep the strong relationships with our customers, we’ll be looking to open a smaller sales administration office locally for those staff that are unable to make the 45-mile commute each way.

With over 100 employees already employed at the Huthwaite site, and over 70 recruited in the 48 hours after the deal was signed, we’ve been quick to get the extrusion lines running within 24 hours of the deal going through. The response from the new workforce has been nothing short of exceptional and the way the business was left at the point of administration is testament to those workers at Aperture Trading.

Having realised the vision to open up a UK manufacturing facility for Profine, the team and I here are now fully focused on providing exceptional customer service coupled with an outstanding product range. Across all brands we’ll be looking to invest in product development, with the considerable resources we have in Germany, along with giving some of the brands a marketing polish which is planned for launch at the FIT Show in 2021.

But for now, the challenge for the industry as a whole is to quickly generate momentum, as we look to come out of the Covid-19 pandemic with a little degree of confidence. The early signs are relatively good, but it will be several months yet before we can truly assess the situation.