Kitchen and dining room furniture maker Amisco, which employs 500 people in four factories in Quebec, welcomes two new investors in a deal that consolidates Quebec control of the company and is expected to lead to acquisitions within 12 to 18 months.
The announcement was made by the Montreal private investment company Champlain Financial Corporation, which is entering into the capital of Amisco with Fondaction, the CSN investment fund. Desjardins Capital and Investissement Québec, already shareholders since 2018, remain on board and reinvest.
CEO and Chairman Réjean Poitras and two other members of his family are rolling part of their shares into the new shareholder structure, where they retain a substantial minority stake and significant weight on the board, said Mr. Poitras on Wednesday.
The amount and proportions of the reinvestment have not been revealed.
Mr. Poitras, 58, remains president, CEO and chairman of the board for the moment, but will hand over day-to-day management to the current chief operating officer, Luc Robitaille, by the end of May. His children are young and there is no family succession in the foreseeable future, hence the need, he says, to ensure the sustainability of the company with long-term shareholders who retain decision-making in Quebec. He will remain on the board, but the transfer of the seat of president of the Board of Directors to an independent director is also planned later, he added.
“Champlain Financial Corporation is going to have a slightly more active role than an ordinary institutional investor,” he said. I will remain on the board and active in the company part-time for several years, devoting myself to business and product development. »
Amisco, which was founded in 1954 by Mr. Poitras’ grandfather, initially manufactured school furniture, hence its name. “But with the decline in the birth rate, this market shrank and Amisco focused exclusively on residential furniture in 1975,” Mr. Poitras said. Today, Amisco mainly produces tables, chairs and stools.
“Amisco is a leader in its market, it is a solid company, and our goal is to make other acquisitions in the sector” and to unite them with Amisco, said André La Forge, partner at Champlain Financial Corporation. , which also has interests in Maison Corbeil, Galeries du furniture, Must Society and Cuisine Expert. “We have targeted a list of people we want to contact. »
Champlain was interested in Amisco in particular for its vertical integration, its speed of manufacturing and delivery and the very wide variety of its offer, which allows it to compete with Chinese mass products.
Mr. Poitras experienced the arrival of Chinese producers on the North American furniture market and the bleeding it caused among Quebec manufacturers from the 2000s: “Many of our competitors died or relocated to the foreign,” he said, citing Shermag among others. “We survived and prospered because we had already started to play the mass customization card, which gives the consumer a very large choice of fabrics and materials, both for chairs and table tops. »
With its flexible factories, Amisco can deliver the personalized product to the customer within one to three weeks, noted Mr. La Forge, adding that this is one of the qualities that convinced Champlain to invest in the company.
Unlike other private investment funds, Champlain does not aim to go public to monetize its investments and can remain a shareholder for a long time: “Some funds give themselves a five-year limit, not us. We’ve been with Orthofab [wheelchair manufacturer] for 15 years and we’ve had a placement for 13 years in a group of 16 John Deere dealers in eastern Canada. »
Amisco’s head office and largest factory are in L’Islet, downstream from Quebec. Amisco has another factory located not far away, in Saint-Pascal-de-Kamouraska, and two factories united under the same roof in Shawinigan.