This post is also available in: Japanese
Nippon Paint Holding’s November 2021 acquisition of French company Cromology initially caused me some confusion. The acquisition was done via Nippon Paint’s consolidated subsidiary, the Australia based DuluxGroup and their newly established UK based company DGL International UK Ltd. To most British people, Dulux is a British consumer brand, famous for using an Old English Sheepdog in its marketing since the 1960s. Because this breed of sheepdog has been used in the Dulux commercials and on its paint tins for so long, it is even known as the Dulux Dog.
It turns out that the Dulux Dog was also used for advertising Dulux paints in Australia, but Dulux in the UK and Dulux in Australia are now owned by separate companies. Dulux brand paints first appeared in the UK the 1930s, developed by the British company ICI, with the brand name being a combination of “Durable” and “Luxury”. By 1986, ICI Australia had 100% ownership of Dulux Australia but ICI plc then sold off ICI Australia in 1997.
In 2008 the Dutch company AkzoNobel acquired ICI, whereas the DuluxGroup listed on the Australian stock market as an independent company in 2010 and acquired various Australian, British and French paint companies and brands since then.
Cromology is Europe’s fourth largest architectural paints manufacturer with 20 paint brands that it sells across Italy, Spain, Portugal and France. Nippon Paint is apparently seeing its acquisition as a way of expanding its various brands, including Dulux, into Central and Eastern Europe too.
Up until recently France has not been as big a base for Japanese companies to expand regionally as the UK or Germany. But this acquisition by Nippon Paint and also the acquisition of French company CFAO by Toyota Tsusho and French multinational Leroy-Somer by Nidec in 2016 makes me wonder whether this might be changing.
CFAO is rather similar to Japan’s trading companies, with a history stretching back nearly 170 years, and has a substantial presence in 39 African countries, including what is sometimes known as Francophone Africa, as well as other former French colonies such as Vietnam. It has over 21,000 employees worldwide and as well as distributing Toyota vehicles, it also has brewing, pharmaceutical, retail and car servicing businesses
France has a long experience of managing famous brands globally, but as I have mentioned before in this column, multinationals are often reluctant to invest in a country that is costly to do business in, with poor labour relations and a complex bureaucracy. French President Emmanuel Macron has been trying to reform labour laws, extend the retirement age and make pensions less costly, but this has been stalled by the pandemic, and the need to maintain his popularity until he seeks a second term as President in April next year. It will not be until later in 2022 that we will see if France is in the mood to redecorate its house.
This article was originally published in Japanese in the Teikoku Databank News on 8th December 2021
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