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Danes put Carter in charge as Jewson takeover completes

1 Mar 23 Denmark’s Stark Group has today completed its acquisition of Saint-Gobain’s UK building materials distribution businesses.

John Carter is now chief executive of Stark Building Materials UK Ltd
John Carter is now chief executive of Stark Building Materials UK Ltd

Stark’s £740m takeover of Saint-Gobain Building Distribution UK Ltd has completed ahead of expectations.

Former Travis Perkins chief executive John Carter has been appointed chief executive of newly-formed Stark Building Materials UK Ltd and a member of Stark Group’s executive committee.

His appointment follows the decision of Mike Newham, who was chief executive of Saint-Gobain Building Distribution UK, to step down. Mr Newham will stay with the company until later this spring to ease the handover.

Stark Building Materials UK includes 600 Jewson branches and distribution centres, along with Gibbs & Dandy (28 branches across England), JP Corry in Northern Ireland, and the specialist brands Jewson Civils Frazer, Minster and International Timber. Collectively they turn over £2.3bn a year and employ 8,900 people.

Stark Group chief executive Søren Olesen said: "We are very pleased to have completed this acquisition in great time, having announced the deal in mid-December. We look very much 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.”

 He added: “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.”

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. It is owned by private equity firm CVC Capital Partners. The acquisition takes its annual sales to nearly £8bn. The combined company has more than 20,000 employees and approximately 1,150 builders’ merchants, specialists, and distribution centres.

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John Carter was with Travis Perkins for 40 years until he stepped down in 2019. He was a director for 18 years and chief executive for five. Since 2019, he had been working in management consulting.

Stark Building Materials UK includes 600 Jewson branches
Stark Building Materials UK includes 600 Jewson branches

Søren Olesen said of his appointment: “He holds significant experience from our industry in the UK. John Carter 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.”

Praising the former chief executive, Mr Olesen said: “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 Newnham 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.”

Mike Newnham himself 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.”

A Saint-Gobain spokesperson said: “We’re pleased to have successfully and efficiently completed the divestment of Saint-Gobain Building Distribution and International Timber to Stark Group. We wish our former colleagues and Stark Group every success for the future. With this divestment Saint-Gobain no longer has any distribution businesses in the UK.”

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