Ultra Finishing acquires Mark Two

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Distributor Mark Two has been bought by Ultra Finishing

Parent company of Hudson Reed, Niko and Premier brands, Ultra Finishing has acquired distributor Mark Two, for an undisclosed sum.

The acquisition includes all assets of Mark Two – except the home selling division - and includes all stock, creditors and debtors. It safeguards around 300 jobs at the Mark Two site in Bolton, Greater Manchester.

All brands will be sold through Ultra Finishing’s existing routes to market, which include retail and distribution, with Ultra Finishing and Mark Two sales teams joining to sell all brands.

Director of Mark Two’s independent division, Paul Jenkinson who has been with the business for eight years, will join Ultra Finishing. The business-to-business operation, hived from Mark Two Distribution, Mark Two Home selling will be run by CEO Nick Hopkinson.

Mark Two has had a roller coaster of a 29-year history, experiencing highs of sales into DIY chains and lows, when it lost 70% of its business following the collapse of Wickes and Dolphin.

The company was established in 1984 by Nick Hopkinson and his father Peter Hopkinson, who had set up Peter J Hopkinson Plumbing Factors, which became known as the PJH Group, before selling it to Lonro in 1978. They were joined a year later by the brother of Nick, Chris Hopkinson.

The company set out distributing branded products but recognised a market for own brands and DIY retailers and started selling bathroom into Focus and B&Q. But a year later B&Q shifted supply and although having gained Wickes, Mark Two then lost the Focus business.

Mark Two then began to supply bathrooms to 180 stores of MFI and introduced an own-brand bathroom range to builders merchant Graham. But MFI went bust with a debt of £3million to Mark Two, although its salvaged some business gaining bathroom sales for Wickes, Dolphin Bathrooms and Focus DIY. It also helped offer credit terms of Clifton Trade Bathrooms, formed by ex-MFI employees, which now trades from eight depots.

But in May 2011 the owners of Focus shut the business and Dolphin went bust, meaning Mark Two lost 70% of its business. Mark Two set up home selling and installations with a previous MD of Dolphin, Moben and Kitchens Direct, for Tesco to create Tesco Kitchens and Tesco Finest Bathrooms, and won a contract with Betta Living to supply bathrooms. But the amount of turnover the company had lost with Wickes, Focus and Dolphin, plus subsequent loss of Betta Living and a failed retailer loss of nearly £200,000, was too much for the distributor to bear. It meant for the Mark Two Survival and Clifton Trade Bathrooms, it would have to have to find funding and was acquired by supplier Ultra Finishing.

Nick Hopkinson commented: “It has been incredible. Chris and I have has some high highs and low lows, but throughout the whole journey we have always tried our best. It’s been a team effort and over the years we have worked with some amazing people. “This is a natural progression for Mark Two and we hope that the future is just as exciting but perhaps not as scary as the past! Peace and love to everyone who has been and continues to be involved, especially my mentor and big brother Chris without whom I would not be the man I am.”

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