British manufacturer buys Nambe LLC for $12M | AP business

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) A Santa Fe-based company known for its polished aluminum alloy kitchenware and home decor has been acquired by a British manufacturer and worldwide distributor for $12 million.

Portmeirion Group’s purchase of Namb LLC from the Hillenbrand family closed Tuesday, the Santa Fe New Mexican reported .

Portmeirion CEO Lawrence Bryan said he has known of Namb for a long time and first thought of acquiring it about 15 years ago.

“I always enjoyed their design ethic. It’s very contemporary, very chic. They never abandoned their central vision,” he said.

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The sale included the Namb headquarters building in Santa Fe, all rights and intellectual property and a distribution center in nearby Espaola.

The New Mexico operation will remain essentially unchanged, and Namb’s 89 local employees will not be affected by the new ownership, according to Bryan and Namb CEO Bill Robedee, who recently was promoted to president of Portmeirion Group USA.

Namb brings in $18 million in annual revenue, with its products available at several Namb stores in New Mexico, one in Arizona and through other retailers in the U.S. such as Bloomingdale’s, Neiman Marcus and Nordstrom.

Bryan said Namb products will start appearing on the shelves of Portmeirion’s 11 British shops in the coming months and other Namb stores are likely to open elsewhere in the U.S.

Namb was founded as Namb Mills in 1951 by Pauline Cable in Pojoaque. The company’s foundry was moved to Santa Fe following a fire in 1976. A few years later, it was bought by the Hillenbrand family.

Until about 10 years ago, Namb’s signature aluminum alloy products were manufactured in New Mexico. Now, Robedee said such merchandise is produced in India, while wooden items are made in Thailand and stainless steel flatware in Vietnam.

Robedee joined Namb in 2014 to reposition the company to tackle what he called a “retail apocalypse.” A large part of his mission has been to strengthen Namb’s online presence.

He said online sales have about doubled in the past five years, with the Namb site making up 12% of all sales and online purchases through retail partners amounting to about 60% of sales.

Namb was Portmeirion’s first purchase outside the U.K., Bryan said. Along with the Portmeirion brand of housewares, the company owns dinnerware makers Spode and Royal Worcester, candle-maker Wax Lyrical, and niche kitchen accessories firm Pimpernel.

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