11 July 2006

The Gradus Group, a leading contract interior finishes company, has announced its exclusive partnership with Wicanders, a deal that will see Gradus Carpets market and distribute a range of Wicanders’ engineered cork and wood flooring products throughout the UK contract market.

Gradus sees the new and exclusive partnership with Wicanders as a way to both strengthen and diversify its specialist flooring portfolio, and also to broaden the company’s opportunities to break into new market sectors such as retail and hospitality.

The joint venture plans to elevate the Wicanders niche collection of premium, high specification engineered cork and wood flooring within the contract market by utilising Gradus’ market knowledge and expertise while also benefiting from the company’s extensive service and distribution networks.

The new deal, which goes live as of March 2006, will initially see Gradus Carpets launch six Wicanders flooring products – two new specialist acoustic lines, two traditional stick downs and finally two clip-type systems – for light commercial use - which will be marketed to the contract arena as Wicanders by Gradus. The marketing plan is to highlight the unique selling points of engineered cork flooring: superior acoustic, insulation, sustainability and flame retardant properties with contemporary aesthetics.

The re-launch of Wicanders in the UK through Gradus will see superb new finishes with unique USPs, which both Gradus and Wicanders see as an exciting challenge to the perception of cork as old fashioned; education of specifiers and flooring contractors is viewed as key to the success of converting sales for both businesses.

David Tierney, Group Sales & Marketing Director of Gradus comments: “There is a great story to be told about the Wicanders premium cork flooring products, in that it is not just about product ranges that look like cork, its about the capability to produce natural finishes that can offer a range of different designs, textures and colours, combined with the ultimate in performance benefits. This in turn will help us position the Wicanders by Gradus product ranges as direct competition to luxury vinyl, linoleum and rubber tile or sheet products”.

The Wicanders by Gradus cork flooring products are to be targeted at a selection of key market sectors, ranging from: hospitality and leisure through to retail, corporate and commercial offices and real estate, demonstrating their stylistic and high design potential crossed with their suitability to combat key issues in the contract markets, from acoustic through to environmental issues over the life-span of the product.

Concluding, David Tierney adds: “Gradus sees the new partnership with Wicanders as a significant tool to growing the overall business in 2006 and beyond. Over the past five years, the Gradus Group has looked at this type of strategic venture to help strengthen its portfolio and ultimately offer its customer base variety in product solutions. Wicanders premium product range reflects our own core business values of manufacturing, developing and marketing high quality products and we’re looking forward to seeing the new partnership grow”.

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