Bathroom firm Bassetts buys Clady plumbers' merchants in expansion drive
Northern Ireland bathroom and heating firm Bassetts has acquired a Co Antrim-based plumbers' merchants, the Belfast Telegraph can reveal.
Bassetts, which is part of French company Saint-Gobain plc and is based in Portadown, has paid an undisclosed sum for Clady Plumbing Supplies, one of the area's oldest in the trade.
The firm said the purchase of the Portglenone company, which employs 11 people, was part of a continued expansion.
Bassetts now has 15 branches employing 100 people across Northern Ireland.
But the business would not disclose the cost of the acquisition, which follows the purchase of greenfield sites for new openings in Bangor, Boucher Road and in Springfield Road over the past few years.
Managing director Alan Wright said: "Clady Plumbing Supplies is a long-standing plumbing and heating company in rural Mid-Ulster, which ties in well with the Bassett network.
"Having a base at the top end of Lough Neagh was of strategic importance to us."
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And Mr Wright said spending on bathrooms by Northern Ireland homeowners was growing.
Around 10 years ago, customers were spending around £1,500 on a bathroom, but were now prepared to spend around £4,000, he explained.
He said the housing boom and bust of 2007 onwards had left many people unable to move over the past 10 years, resulting in them staying put and updating their bathrooms and other parts of the house. "That's meant growth for us in the repair, maintenance and improvement of existing stock, but now we are seeing new stock," Mr Wright said.
"You only have to drive around the country to see small plots of 12 or 15 new builds."
He said competitors were starting to mimic its own local approach and added: "The DIY sector has gone through a challenging time, where many big multiples are closing large box stores and relocating into local establishments.
"Whilst we have the backing of a very large plc, all our staff are employed locally. Bassetts have outstanding local staff, as does Clady."
Both companies cater to trade and retail, and Clady has a strong line in stoves and cookers, he explained.
"That's a new line for us. You'd find that many of the large rural homes in Northern Ireland will have oil-fired cookers from Clady," Me Wright added.
Bassetts sells everything from plumbing and heating materials to radiators and boilers, as well as bathrooms and tiles. Its sales of tiles have also grown, the firm said, with nearly 250,000 sold since the start of last year.
Bassetts was founded by Philip Bassett in 1978 and was taken over by French multinational Saint-Gobain in 2004.
Philip's brother, Stephen, led the company from 2006 until 2014, when Mr Wright took over as boss.
The business has also spent around £500,000 on its branches, including opening a showroom in Boucher Crescent in south Belfast. It is also currently revamping its Portadown showroom.
Mr Wright said there could be more acquisitions in the future.
Bassetts has branches in Bangor, Belfast, Coleraine, Downpatrick, Dungannon, Lisburn, Greencastle, Londonderry, Mallusk, Newry, Portadown and Omagh. The company was named Plumbers' Merchant of the Year for the third year in a row at the Plumbing and Heating Awards in June.