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Equistone acquires Swiss kitchen and bathroom fittings specialist Franke Water Systems

02 mars 2021

Funds advised by Equistone Partners Europe (“Equistone”), one of Europe’s most active mid-market private equity firms, have agreed to acquire Franke Water Systems, a division of Franke Group and a leading European producer and supplier of kitchen and bathroom fittings for the residential, public and commercial sectors. Thorsten Klapproth, former CEO of Hansgrohe SE and WMF AG, joins the transaction as a co-investor. The seller of the Franke Water Systems division, which consists of the two business units KWC Group (“KWC”) and WS Commercial Group (“WSC”), is Franke Holding AG (“Franke Group”). The current management team will continue to drive the company’s growth strategy. The financial terms of the transaction are undisclosed and remain subject to approval from the relevant competition authorities.

Franke Water Systems is a division of Franke Group, which was founded in 1911 in Rorschach, Switzerland and is a globally active supplier of solutions and equipment for domestic kitchens and bathrooms, public washrooms, professional system catering providers and coffee brewing. Franke Water Systems was established as an independent division of the Franke Group and is formed of two business units, KWC and WSC, with production sites and competence centres in Europe, the United Arab Emirates and Asia. The company employs c. 900 people and generated revenues of more than 192 million Swiss Francs in 2020.

KWC is a Swiss market leader for residential bathroom, residential kitchen and commercial kitchen fittings, headquartered in Unterkulm in Switzerland. The well-established company offers its customers solutions ranging from the mid- to luxury-price segment. Primarily due to the high-quality materials and workmanship of its products, as well as its innovative design approach and a promise of “Made in Switzerland” quality, the company enjoys great popularity among fitters and architects.

WSC offers its customers high-quality stainless-steel fittings and components for the commercial and public bathroom sector. WSC products are used in washrooms of facilities such as office or administrative buildings, sports stadiums as well as hotels and hospitals. WSC has several international sites and is characterised by its comprehensive and high-quality product portfolio as well as its high service competence.

Equistone’s investment supports the carve-out of Franke Water Systems from the Franke Group. Together with Thorsten Klapproth, former CEO of Hansgrohe SE and WMF AG, as well as the current management team, Equistone will build on the company’s solid business development in recent years and drive the international expansion alongside the organic and acquisitive growth of Franke Water Systems. A particular focus will be the continued development of the company’s innovative product range and the expansion of its strong brand positioning.

“We are pleased with our investor’s confidence in the management team. Together with Equistone, we aim to continue offering our customers high-quality kitchen and bathroom solutions as we look to further develop Franke Water Systems,” says Patrick Truttmann, CFO of Franke Water Systems.

“Franke Water Systems has outstanding people on its team and enjoys an excellent market position in key European markets, as well as great potential for further profitable growth,” says Thorsten Klapproth.

“The European market for kitchen and bathroom solutions has been developing very positively for years and Franke Water Systems is ideally positioned to play an important role in this market environment. With Thorsten Klapproth, we were able to bring a proven industry expert with many years of experience on board, who has repeatedly shown that it is possible to successfully grow strong brands through enthusiastic employees and innovative products – both organically and acquisitively,” says Stefan Maser, Partner at Equistone.

Stefan Maser, David Zahnd and Roman Emanuel Hegglin led the transaction on behalf of Equistone. Equistone was advised by Munich Strategy (Commerical), tkhd (Commercial), KPMG (Financial), Bär & Karrer (Legal & Tax), ERM (Environment), Marsh/Kessler (Insurance), GCA Altium (Debt Advisory) and Enqcor (M&A Advisory).

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