Architectural lighting specialist Wila sold to Nordeon

The architectural lighting manufacturer Wila has been bought by Nordeon for an undisclosed sum.

The Anglo-German manufacturer – which has been independent since a management buy-out in 2004 – now joins the Hess, Griven and Vulkan brands in the Nordeon group’s portfolio.

Wila chief Mike Collett says the sale – which has been planned for the last two years – is about maximising the brand’s potential.

‘It’s a bigger opportunity,’ said Collett. ‘It’s a competitive world and you need to invest in terms of marketing and product development, and you simply need the bandwidth. This makes us part of a bigger enterprise. We now have access to [Nordeon’s] systems, their buying power and opportunities for cross selling.'

Collett joins the Nordeon board and, along with the existing Wila management, will remain in post to run and operate the Wila business from Wantage and Abingdon in the UK and Iserlohn in Germany. He says it was crucial that the brand remains a distinct operation.

‘I can’t believe that the acdc brand [which was sold recently to Zumtobel] won’t disappear. Our arrangement is more like the Acuity model in the US, where the parent gives central resource to its brands. We’re a big brand but a small business, so we’ve had little access to funding.’

Collett denies the sale has been forced, and dismisses any linkage to last year’s fraud incident in which financial controller Stephen Barrett stole £735,000 (US$1 million) from the company. ‘It’s been our choice to sell. The fact is we have got a really decent deal and the management team is staying with the business. ‘

With sales of almost £15 million (US$22 million) in 2015, Wila represents 20 per cent of Nordeon’s sales, says Collett. Wila sales grew 40 per cent in 2015 on the back of strong project business. It’s believed that the £1.6 million (US$2.3 million) lighting order for the new American embassy in London has been won by Wila. It has also supplied the Blavatnik School of Government in Oxford and the Birmingham Dental School.

Collett moved to reassure the workforce at the company’s operations in the UK. ‘The plan at the moment is to invest in the Oxfordshire operations. We’ll increase the sales team too as we see the UK as a good opportunity.’

He hopes Nordeon will help open doors in Russia and the Eastern bloc, and Wila will also have a presence in Nordeon’s office in the UAE, which is due to open later this year.

‘Wila has an impeccable reputation in the architects and specification market in the premium indoor segment,’ said Nordeon Group chairman Patrick van Rossum. ’This is a tremendous step towards developing the Nordeon Group into a global lighting company’.