Carlisle Brass acquires hardware specialist Alexander and Wilks

Carlisle Brass has acquired British hardware specialist Alexander and Wilks.

Architectural ironmongery manufacturer and distributor Carlisle Brass, which is part of the ASSA ABLOY group, completed the deal to acquire Alexander and Wilks from previous owners More Handles at the end of April.

Alexander and Wilks moved into the Carlisle Brass base around half-a-mile down the road in early May, which was its first month trading under the Carlisle Brass umbrella.

Carlisle Brass managing director Angus Grant told kbbreview that the acquisition was a “perfect fit” for the company as it has already seen an increase in its cabinet hardware sales post-Covid.

Grant said: “The cabinet hardware sector has been one of our biggest growth sectors over the past few years, and certainly during Covid, and we have seen a major increase in the number of people changing and renovating their houses – and hardware is a really simple way to change a property.

“Alexander and Wilks has been doing a really good job and along with the fact that it was so local to us, it was a great fit for us to springboard our cabinet hardware growth.”

And as Grant explained, it also allowed Carlisle Brass to add even more solid brass products to its portfolio. He said that since the Eighties the market had moved away from brass towards zinc and aluminium products, but Carlisle Brass was seeing a rise in demand for prestige, higher-end brass products, which Alexander and Wilks brings to the table.

The acquisition also brings Carlisle Brass an opportunity to sell more through kitchen manufacturers and resellers, as Alexander and Wilks’s business was traditionally spilt 50:50 between the architectural hardware and the kitchen markets.

Angus Grant, MD, Carlisle Brass

Grant added that the acquisition will provide the opportunity to fast-track Alexander and Wilks’s growth strategy.

“We can help the team grow in terms of their product portfolio and we have already done a lot of range analysis. So we can scale it up with stock, we can scale it up with customer base and with range fill and new product development.”

Speaking of what the acquisition has meant for Alexander and Wilks, head of sales Stuart Kerr said: “It gives us a great opportunity to expand. Our goal was to be the first port of call for the kitchen industry and we always had ambitions for it to grow domestically and globally. And with the existing Carlisle Brass customer base that we have, that can help get the word out a lot quicker and grow the brand. We can offer the quality, we can offer the service and we can offer the price.”

Plans are already in place for Alexander and Wilks to have a stand at the kbb Birmingham show in March 2024.

“It is an opportunity to get the brand out there,” explained Grant.

Kerr added: “We have only been trading for just over two years and during that time our main aim was to bring product in so we had something to sell. Our product listing is over 750 items and with that comes big investment. Without the backing of Carlisle Brass, being at the kbb show next year would not have been achievable for us. We will have plenty of new products to show there.”

And during its first two years trading, Alexander and Wilks has already grown rapidly. Kerr said: “Pretty much every month is a new record. It has really taken off in the past 12 to 18 months, and that has been through the backing of our architectural ironmongery customer base. Our best ever month was last November. We have done in the first six months of this year what we did in first 10 months of last year and that is before we start dealing with the Carlisle Brass existing customer base.”

Grant added: “Last month, we saw 130% growth year on year. One of the only things that was stopping it was the stock and the ability to invest in more products. We don’t know where the top is yet.”

Summing up the significance of the acquisition for Carlisle Brass, Grant added:

“It is a perfect fit for us. We are buying products that we know and love from people that are culturally are a really good fit for us. Carlisle Brass is very much about scale with intimacy and that is really important to the team at Alexander and Wilks. We might be large, but we know all of our customers and we know them really well. We have a shared value set and we can bring scale to the intimacy of Alexander and Wilks.”

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