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Gerfa Rex Heller

Buy and build

  • Entry 1993
  • Exit 2003
  • Sales €24 million

Gerfa-Rex consisted of Gerfa, a producer of HSS milling cutters, and Rex, its only producer of masonry drills. Gerfa was once the tool of choice for major Dutch companies. But with heavy industries in decline in the early nineties, turnover was falling and net losses were mounting. Our analysis identified two main problems. First, the business had become relatively small compared to its competitors. Moreover, Gerfa’s traditional customer base was rapidly being eroded as the Dutch economy shifted structurally from manufacturing towards services.

Nimbus’ strategy was to refocus Gerfa around so-called “specials” – milling cutters produced to customer specifications. Production of “standard” tools would be limited to servicing select larger customers with a smaller range. Meanwhile, the group’s main focus would be shifted to Rex, which had a strong market position in the Netherlands and is a reputable brand name in many export markets.

A further step came five years later with the acquisition of the German firm Heller, one of Rex’ main competitors. In the following year, the Rex production facility was integrated into Heller’s much larger equivalent to achieve major synergy benefits. Later on, ITW, convinced of the perfect strategic fit between Heller and its own operations, approached Nimbus and subsequently acquired Heller. One year later Rex was sold separately to a Dutch strategic buyer.

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