Thornbridge Sawmills and Rembrand Timber have merged, with the help of further investment from Cairngorm Capital Partners.

Thornbridge and Rembrand are the two largest independent timber processing and distribution companies in Scotland so this merger marks a key milestone in the growth strategy for both businesses. Together with NYTimber, which merged with Thornbridge in February 2018, they will create the leading independent timber distribution company in Scotland and the North of England, with 35 branches, revenues exceeding £100 million, and more than 600 employees.

Established in 1982 and headquartered in Dundee, Rembrand is an importer, manufacturer and distributor of timber. It has two manufacturing sites and 20 branches across Scotland, serving a broad range of customers in the construction industry. In addition to an extensive range of timber, sheet and joinery products, Rembrand offers roofing, insulation and other building materials via its subsidiary companies, Scotia Roofing, Glow Insulation & Site Supplies and Rembrand Builders Merchants. In 2017 it achieved revenues approaching £50 million and employed 288 people.

This transaction advances Thornbridge’s strategy to consolidate the UK value added timber distribution sector and expand geographically. The enlarged group now has an established distribution structure that extends from Thurso and Skye to Northallerton, providing a platform for further growth.

The merger was triggered by the retirement of George Low, Managing Director and founder of Rembrand, who will remain in the business for the short term to ensure an effective handover and a smooth transition. It also marks the decision by Bruce Muirhead, Thornbridge’s Managing Director, to step back from the day-to-day running of the business and to continue his involvement in a non-executive capacity. Following Cairngorm Capital’s initial investment eight months ago, Muirhead committed to stay for a limited period to guide the business through its first phase of growth, which culminated in this merger.

Rob Barclay joins as Group Chief Executive from SIG plc, one of the largest distributors of specialist building products in Europe, where  he was Group Managing Director for the UK and Ireland. With Cairngorm Capital’s involvement, the Thornbridge group of companies have benefitted from considerable investment since November 2017 and his expertise will be instrumental in integrating and scaling the business, to generate further growth and ensure that the company fulfils its potential.

Barclay said: “I am delighted to be joining Thornbridge and to be able to welcome Rembrand into the group. It is a pleasure to have such a well-respected company, with a strong market presence join the group. There is a clear fit between all the businesses and the combination creates many opportunities. The group is at a really exciting point in its development, with the ability to capitalise on numerous options for growth. Although we have ambitious goals to fulfil, with strong investor support, our exceptional products, first-rate employees and a well-deserved reputation for superior service, these are very achievable. I look forward to leading the next phase of development.”

Low said: “I have long been an admirer of Thornbridge and all that it has achieved. We have much in common in terms of our heritage, our commitment to outstanding product quality and our belief in the highest standards of customer service. This, together with our highly complementary product ranges and distribution networks, makes the merger a good fit and will allow Rembrand to continue to thrive to the benefit of our customers and employees. I know I will be leaving the business in very capable hands and look forward to seeing it prosper.”

And Jim Faulds, Chairman of Thornbridge, added: “On behalf of all at Thornbridge, I would like to welcome Robert and thank Bruce Muirhead for his unstinting support and commitment over the last six months. That we are in a position to complete this merger with Rembrand and pursue our strategy for growth, is testament to the great company and great team that he built. Having chosen to be less active in the management of the company, the Board of Thornbridge is delighted that Bruce will continue to be involved as a non-executive director in the next phase of its growth.”

Thornbridge and Cairngorm Capital were advised on this transaction by Johnston Carmichael (financial and tax), Addleshaw Goddard (legal), CIL (commercial) and JLT (insurance). Rembrand shareholders were advised by Henderson Loggie (financial and tax) and Blackadders (legal). PNC Business Credit provided bank facilities to support this transaction.