Several acquisitions then took place, which meant an international expansion and a stronger position in the European kitchen market. Explore more of Nobia's history in the image slider, and read below.
Nobia was formed by Industri Kapital through a buy-out from STORA, with a Nordic core operation comprising doors, windows and kitchens, and a wholesale business for building materials. Unprofitable export operations were discontinued and a focus on core business was initiated, along with business units' decentralised responsibility for profitability. Kitchen sales amounted to about SEK 1.5 billion and included brands such as Danish HTH, Norwegian Sigdal and Swedish Marbodal.
Nobia improved its margins by rationalising production, increasing brand recognition, improving efficiency and reorganising the business. The company could report a profit in 1997. In 1998, Finland's leading kitchen manufacturer Novart was acquired.
The profitability trend continued and Nobia made a strategic decision to focus on kitchens and expand outside the Nordic region. Nobia assessed large opportunities for a company with the capacity to lead the consolidation of the European kitchen market.
Focus was on establishing a core business while lowering production costs and broadening market coverage. Door and window manufacturers are sold off, as well as Swedish wholesale operations. By acquiring German Poggenpohl, Swedish Myresjökök, Norwegian Norema, Danish Invita and British Magnet, presence in the European kitchen market was greatly reinforced.
Nobia was introduced on the Stockholm Stock Exchange. Net sales amounted to SEK 9.6 billion and employees numbered around 5,900.
Combined acquisition efforts and organic growth pave the way for profitable growth. Operations in the German business unit Goldreif were discontinued. Nobia acquired Gower, a leading British manufacturer of flat-pack kitchens, as well as Austria's leading kitchen manufacturer with the brands ewe and FM.
The business was organised into three geographic regions: UK, Nordic and Continental European. Nobia acquired leading Austrian kitchen manufacturer with the brands ewe and FM.
French kitchen chain Hygena was acquired. After this acquisition, the Group's net sales reached around SEK 15.6 billion SEK and the number of employees was 8,000.
A joint-venture company, Culinoma, was formed with De Mandemakers Groep in the Netherlands. During the year, Culinoma became the leading kitchen retail chain in Germany after the acquisitions of Plana, Marquardt and Asmo. A decision was also made to increase the pace of store establishment within Magnet, Hygena and Poggenpohl.
The latter part of the year was dominated by the financial crisis and uncertainty, which reduced demand for kitchens. Consequently, Nobia reported negative growth for the first time since 2003. The company merged business units and enhanced the efficiency of its supply chain.
The kitchen market in Europe was very much under the influence of the recession and Nobia's earnings declined sharply. In the midst of the crisis, Nobia focused on reducing costs and strengthening the cash flow. The decision was made to implement strategic and organisational changes to create long-term profitability and growth.
Pronorm and its ownership share in Culinoma in Germany was divested. The transaction was part of Nobia's strategy to focus on attractive customer offerings, clear brands and a more efficient supply chain with fewer and larger plants. A new organisation signalled the start of a several-year change process, which will lead to a stronger Group. Morten Falkenberg took office as President and CEO.
A new strategic direction was presented. Cost savings were implemented, meaning considerable personnel reductions and closure of stores. The market situation deteriorated due to heightened economic uncertainty in Europe. To adjust costs to the market situation, additional cost-saving measures were carried out. During the fourth quarter the launch of a Group-wide range commenced. At the same time, a significant store refurbishment programme started in Hygena.
Nobia took major steps towards higher efficiency, greater co-ordination and lower costs. All of Nobia's markets weakened. The refurbishment programme in the Hygena chain was completed. The Group-wide range was introduced in France, UK and Scandinavia. In Sweden, the production was consolidated to Tidaholm.
Nobia took further steps towards higher productivity, lower costs and greater co-ordination. The Group's margins improved, despite lower sales. The performance in the primary markets remained weak, despite recovery in the UK market. Manufacturing for the French kitchen chain Hygena was relocated from Germany to the UK and, in conjunction with this, Optifit was divested to the local management team. Swedish brand Myresjökök was merged into Marbodal.
Nobia was further consolidated and profitability improved despite lower sales. Nobia entered into an agreement with Fournier Group about the divestment of its French kitchen chain Hygena. During the fourth quarter, Rixonway Kitchens was acquired. Rixonway Kitchens is an established kitchen supplier on the UK project market.
Net sales increased as a result of organic growth, acquisitions and positive currency effects. The operating margin improved. French kitchen chain Hygena was divested in March. During the fourth quarter, Nobia acquired Commodore Kitchens and CIE Kitchens, two kitchen companies active in the private development market in the UK.
Despite negative currency effects, sales grew and the target of an operating margin of more than 10 per cent was achieved. In the end of the year, Nobia agreed on the sale of the German operation Poggenpohl. The divestment of Poggenpohl was completed in January 2017.