STARK Group completes Saint-Gobain Building Distribution UK takeover and names new UK CEO

STARK Group completes Saint-Gobain Building Distribution UK takeover and names new UK CEO

Following an “accelerated process”, STARK Group has now completed its acquisition of Saint-Gobain Building Distribution UK and named former Travis Perkins boss John Carter as the CEO of the newly-named STARK Building Materials UK.

First announced on 12 December 2022, the acquisition comprises some of the UK’s leading brands in the sector including Jewson, Gibbs & Dandy, JP Corry, the specialist brands of Jewson Civils Frazer and Minster, as well as International Timber. Following the divestment, Saint-Gobain no longer has any distribution businesses in the UK.

STARK Group CEO Søren P. Olesen said: “We very much look forward to welcoming nearly 9,000 colleagues and many new tradespeople to our customer list in the UK. We have a strategy that successfully focuses on professional tradespeople and the renovation and maintenance market. The UK is an attractive market with solid population growth, one of Europe’s oldest housing stocks, and a huge potential for energy renovations.

“We are facing a challenging transition year, but we have acquired a company that we can make thrive and grow. The more than 600 branches and distribution centres are in good locations across the entire UK. We will invest in the business, the customers, the employees, and the distribution. We have acquired a company with whom we can continue our growth journey.”

Heading up the new STARK Building Materials UK business will be John Carter, following the decision of former CEO Mike Newnham to step down. John has been in the building materials and distribution sector for more than 40 years, having worked his way up from management trainee to Chief Executive Officer of Travis Perkins plc. Since 2019, he has been working in management consulting.

Søren P. Olesen commented: “John shares our belief in strengthening the accountability in branches and the business focusing on the professional tradespeople’s needs. These are beliefs that have been powerful in bringing STARK Group back on the growth track. We believe that they will serve STARK in the UK well too. I look forward to working with John Carter and the management team of STARK Building Materials UK to unleash the business’s full potential over the coming years.”

John joins the business with immediated effect, also becoming a member of STARK Group’s Executive Committee (ExCom), however Mike Newnham will stay with the company until later this spring to secure a proper handover.

Mike said: “With the new ownership by STARK Group, the business will be entering a new era where there will be exciting and demanding times ahead for the next period. This needs absolute commitment and focus. I have spent time really thinking about what I felt was best for both me and the business, speaking to my family and considering in what direction I want to develop my career next. As I did this, I concluded that now is the right time to consider a new commitment outside the business.”

Søren added: “Through the acquisition process of the business, I was very impressed with the strategy that Mike Newnham set and implemented to turn around the business over the past few years. Setting a purpose and value-based strategy has certainly been critically important to changing and improving the culture to one of trust, empowerment and collaboration.

“Mike’s successful leadership and focus on significantly improving colleague engagement and implementing clearly defined successful customer segmented propositions together with a digital transformation strategy have led to an improvement in market share performance, culminating in an important improvement in the underlying financial performance of the business.”

He continued: “Mike Newnham has set a strong leadership team and improved the bench strength of the leadership team and talent. He has built a solid foundation, leaving a company in significantly better shape than when he joined in 2017. Now, Mike wants to do something else in his career. It is a decision one can only be respectful of, and I wish him all the best for the future.”

STARK Group is a leading retailer and distributor of heavy building materials across Europe and operates in the Nordics, Germany, Austria and now the UK. The acquisition takes its total pro forma annual net sales to around EUR 9 billion whilst the combined company has more than 20,000 employees and approximately 1,150 dedicated builders’ merchants, specialists, and distribution centres.

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