Private investor Cairngorm swoops to acquire Arnold Laver

13 November 2018

Private equity firm Cairngorm Capital has swooped to acquire UK timber industry giant Arnold Laver.

In an announcement today, the Cairngorm-backed National Timber Group said it had merged with Arnold Laver to create the largest independent timber distribution business in the UK with combined revenue approaching £250m.

The new enlarged Group has 52 distribution and processing sites extending from the north of Scotland to London and the South West and over 1,300 employees, also encompassing Thornbridge Sawmills, Rembrand Timber and North Yorkshire Timber.

Together they serve a diverse and varied customer base including joiners, regional housebuilders, commercial companies and infrastructure projects. Headquartered in Sheffield, family-run Arnold Laver has an annual turnover of more than £130m, 13 depots and was first established in 1920.

It imports, distributes and manufactures a wide range of timber, panels, decorative surfaces and joinery products, supplying major infrastructure projects including the 2012 Olympics and HS2.

With minimal overlap of the branch networks, the merger is being seen as a key milestone in the growth strategy for both businesses, advancing their collective objective to consolidate the UK value added timber distribution sector, expand geographically and provides the platform for further growth.

The enlarged Group will be led by Rob Barclay, group chief executive, who joined The National Timber Group in June. The Group will have three divisions: a Scottish division based in Grangemouth and led by Alex McLeod; one headquartered in Sheffield led by the Arnold Laver management team and a third headquartered in Northallerton and led by Nick Kershaw.

Each of the underlying companies will retain their trading names.

The merger was prompted by Lavers shareholders’ decision to focus on their existing property and leisure interests. Owners Andrew Laver and Mark Bower will remain in the business to ensure an effective handover and a smooth transition.

Neil McGill, investment director at Cairngorm Capital let the transaction.

“The UK timber market remains highly fragmented and offers many opportunities for well, organised, high quality businesses such as The National Timber Group and Arnold Laver,” he said.

“As investors, we have been working hard to find opportunities to scale our timber interests rapidly so we are delighted to be able to support this partnership.”

Andrew Laver explained the merger was a good fit.

“Both companies have much in common in terms of heritage, outstanding product quality and a commitment to the highest standards of customer service, which makes this merger a very good fit,” he said.

“I am confident that the business is in very capable hands and that it will continue to thrive and prosper.”

Arnold Laver has been acquired by Cairngorm Capital-backed National Timber Group