Recent developments in the paint industry confirm that indeed, this is a global business, however paint company sales and acquisitions around the world can affect what you’re buying a few blocks from your shop, so it never hurts to know a bit about the larger picture. Get out your scorecard; as you’ll find out, brands changing hands is nothing new, and many brands familiar to today’s painters and paint contractors have beginnings that have been obscured by time, rebranding and acquisition.
Brands Changing Hands
Amsterdam-based AkzoNobel is the third largest paint company in the world after Sherwin-Williams and PPG. The company has furthered its global reach; it recently acquired the African holdings of Japanese company Kansai Paint, which is listed on the same chart at number eight. Kansai does business in twelve African countries including South Africa, Namibia, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. “The transaction includes the Plascon brand, which has more than 100 years of heritage in South Africa,” says AkzoNobel in a press release. “Together with our own Dulux brand, they’re the longest-established paint brands in the region.”
Plascon was first opened in Johannesburg, South Africa, in 1889 and is involved in decorative, industrial, and automotive coatings. Kansai acquired the company in 2011.
Room for Growth
CEOs of the African-based paint companies sold in the transaction have lauded the decision, stating, “We believe that AkzoNobel will be the owner who will elevate the business to the next level, as AkzoNobel … is committed to innovation, workforce development and broader career opportunities, as well as the long-term success of its paint businesses in Africa.”
“Acquiring Kansai Paint’s activities in the region will help us to further expand our paints and coatings business in Africa and provide a strong platform for future growth,” says AkzoNobel CEO, Thierry Vanlancker. “Kansai Paint shares our commitment to innovation and sustainability, and we look forward to combining our expertise, which will result in a wider range of innovative products and more sustainable solutions for our customers.”
Along with Kansai, AkzoNobel has embarked on a series of paints and coatings acquisitions over the last two years, including Titan Paints in Spain and Portugal, New Nautical Coatings in the US, and most recently, Grupo Orbis in Latin America.
New Nautical Coatings, based in Florida and established in 1978, is a brand of yacht coatings sold in the US as well as the Caribbean and Australasia. AkzoNobel has stated that the North American yacht market is the largest in the world. “Acquiring New Nautical Coatings means we’re now well-positioned to expand our operations in North America and further improve the service levels for our customers,” said a company executive.
The coatings legacy of AkzoNobel goes back to 1792, when Wiert Willem Sikkens began manufacturing wood finishing products to sell to nearby craftsmen. For reference, George Washington was serving his first term in office. The company, eventually known as Akzo, merged with Nobel Industries — which has roots back to 1646 — in 1994 and now operates in about 150 countries. In the USA it is best known for the Sikkens brand, however its American interests in the brand were sold to PPG, which now sells the product as PPG Proluxe. AkzoNobel also sells many products under the Devoe label, a brand founded in the American colonies in 1754.
With a regional headquarters in Nashville, Tennessee, AkzoNobel’s North America operations includes 3,200 employees at more than 30 manufacturing sites, technology labs and business offices. The Top Employers Institute has certified AkzoNobel as a “Top Employer 2020 in the USA.”
Late in the 2010s, the company rejected several offers from PPG, which was interested in acquiring the Dutch company, but as Akzo Nobel rejected a nearly $30 billion offer, the companies remain independent of each other.