Swedish Flooring Maker Kaehrs Said to Weigh IPO After Turnaround

  • PE Owner Triton Advisers may sell shares as soon as this year
  • Recovery in place for company that teetered during crisis

Kaehrs Holding AB, the Swedish flooring manufacturer owned by Triton Advisers Ltd., is weighing an initial public offering, five years after a brush with insolvency, according to people with knowledge of the matter.

Kaehrs, an early pioneer in engineered-wood flooring, may sell shares on the Stockholm stock exchange as soon as this year, said one of the people, who asked not to be identified because the plans aren’t public. No final decision has been made, and other options are being considered, said the people. They declined to comment on the size of a potential IPO or valuation. A representative of Triton, a private equity company, declined to comment.

An IPO would cap a turnaround at Kaehrs, a 159-year-old company that breached financial covenants during the financial crisis amid falling sales and profit margins. The flooring manufacturer was taken over by lenders and was almost bankrupt when Triton acquired and began to restructure it. Kaehrs was merged with another flooring producer, Karelia Upofloor Oy, in 2012 to gain scale, adding Finland’s Hartwall Capital Oy Ab as a minority owner.

"Despite an environment in turmoil that can be difficult to assess, conditions on our core markets are generally positive, with good growth in the construction and renovation market," Kaehrs Chief Executive Officer Christer Persson said on Feb. 19.

The company said then that sales rose 5 percent to 2.72 billion kronor ($328 million) in 2015, while profit doubled to 62 million kronor.

Kaehrs has about 1,550 workers and claims to be a market leader in Sweden, Norway, Finland and Russia and also considers Germany, the U.K. and the U.S. as core markets.

Kaehrs, based in Malmoe, was founded in 1857 making wood products. In 1941, Gustav Kaehr received a patent for multi-layered engineered wood floors, a product that is common today, according to the company’s website.

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