The Highbourne Group announces digital acquisitions

The Highbourne Group announces digital acquisitions

The Highbourne Group – parent company of brands including City Plumbing Supplies (CPS) and Plumbing Trade Supplies (PTS) amongst others – has announced the acquisition of online bathroom retailer Plumbworld, following its recent acquisition of PAB Systems.

Founded in 1999 and headquartered in Evesham, Plumbworld was reportedly the first online bathroom business in the UK and is said to have become one of the nation’s leading online retail platforms for bathroom, kitchen, plumbing and heating products. The business prides itself on supplying the industry’s best products at affordable prices and the Highbourne Group believes the decision will strengthen its e-commerce and direct-to-consumer retail offering whilst complementing its existing portfolio.

By harnessing its leading branch and online capabilities for trade customers, and increasing customer convenience by giving domestic customers fast access to the products they need, the Highbourne Group states that Plumbworld’s experience and knowledge of the e-commerce sector are key to the acquisition and will help it to grow the online presence of its other brands.

James Hickman, CEO and founder of Plumbworld, said: “The integration of Plumbworld into the Highbourne Group is an exciting new chapter for our business. The Highbourne Group is creating real momentum in the market and I see enormous potential for Plumbworld as part of that growth plan.”

Highbourne Group CEO Dave Evans added: “We are delighted to welcome Plumbworld into the Highbourne Group family of businesses and see Plumbworld as highly complementary to our existing customer propositions. James Hickman and the management team at Plumbworld have built the leading online bathroom retailer in the UK and I look forward to working with them to accelerate their growth initiatives.

“The acquisition of Plumbworld enables us to take our proven trade customer proposition and market leading supply chain to retail customers too – meaning that we can provide customers across the UK with even quicker access to what they need, when they need it.”

In addition, the City Plumbing owner states it is “making strides to a digital future” with the acquisition of Policy Administration Business (PAB) Systems — a specialist software and systems provider that assists clients such as housing associations, landlords and social housing contractors with managing and administering policies and repairs in the heating sector.

With the system built on a comprehensive boiler database “with detailed fault code information about every boiler ever made and manufactured, and any required spare parts needed to remedy that fault”, the Highbourne Group believes it can offer a multitude of benefits to plumbing and heating engineers, landlords and homeowners, with users benefitting from PAB’s ability to “proactively identify the boiler fault and the required remedy, reducing the time the boiler is unavailable for use, the cost of solving the issue and the mileage and CO2 emissions for each engineer”.

Accordingly, the acquisition will enable City Plumbing to launch a subscription-based diagnostic fault-finding service later this year that will utilise PAB’s data and services to assist customers to diagnose faults quickly, improve first-time fix rates, and quickly source the spares they need through the merchant’s 370-strong branch network.

Set to be “the first of its kind in the UK”, the service will be a 24/7 nationwide support network that enables a ‘supply and fix’ service for trusted engineer and installer partners of City Plumbing to fix and repair any boiler efficiently, first time. Housing associations, social housing providers and contractors will also be able to ensure their tenants receive quick and efficient repairs whilst also reducing costs.

Dave Evans commented: “As one of the nation’s largest providers of spare parts to the plumbing and heating sector, we have observed that the ways in which our customers want to do business with us are changing. We recognise that many plumbing and heating businesses and their engineers are increasingly turning to technology to help them operate more effectively and therefore we are focusing on developing our strategies and solutions with a digital first mindset.

“Through the acquisition of PAB, we will combine data, diagnostics and digital technologies with our ability to effectively stock and distribute thousands of spare parts across the country. This partnership will ensure that almost every engineer in the country can have even quicker access to what they need; when they need it, meaning they can provide a better and ultimately more efficient service to their customers.”

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