acdc purchase takes Zumtobel into hospitality sector

acdc CEO Gareth Frankland and Zumtobel Group CEO Ulrich Schumacher.expect integration to be finalised by March

Zumtobel has bought the UK-based LED lighting maker acdc for an undisclosed sum in a move which gives it an offering for the hospitality sector.

The company described the purchase as a ‘strategic addition to its product portfolio’ which is expected to give Zumtobel an entry into the leisure and hospitality sector, an area in which it and its partner brands have traditionally been weak. acdc, for instance, has a range of popular LED downlights aimed at hotels and restaurants. The acquisition would also boost acdc sales through the Zumtobel Group’s global sales network.

Zumtobel has bought 60 per cent of the British company with an option to buy the remaining 40 per cent.  Acdc will remain an independent brand and join Tridonic and Thorn in the Zumtobel portfolio. The company started as a supplier of cold cathode lighting but made the strategic switch to LED in 2001 and benefitted from high growth of the technology. It is based in Barrowford, north of Manchester, and specialises in the architectural façade and hospitality segments.

In 2014 acdc sold £12.5 million (17 million euros, US$19 million) worth of LED luminaires and systems. It has around 120 employees. acdc’s long term CEO and majority shareholder Gareth Frankland will continue to head the brand.

‘The acquisition is an excellent strategic addition to our existing brand and product portfolio,’ said Zumtobel Group CEO Ulrich Schumacher. ‘Architectural façade and hospitality lighting are precisely the areas where we see major growth opportunities, which we can leverage with the new setup. Furthermore, the acdc team has a highly developed innovation culture, which enables them to provide a fast and dynamic response to market requirements. This culture will also inspire the employees of the Zumtobel Group. It is our declared aim to retain acdc’s dynamic innovation culture and their excellent customer relationships. For that reason, acdc will be managed as an independent brand and, in terms of our organisational structure, will be integrated into the Zumtobel Group as a flexible individual unit.’

The key markets for acdc are currently their domestic UK market and the Middle East, along with a selective presence in other European countries and the US.

‘For Zumtobel, there’s a real strategic benefit as we are very strong in hospitality and regionally we’re strong in the Middle East. Zumtobel has bought the factory in Barrowford and that’s a fundamental part of what acdc is and it’s a critical skillset. Our long-term success is due to design skill and having that in the UK.

‘We’re a speedboat and Ulrich recognises that. What Zumtobel bring to us is a scale which will deliver real value in terms of things like purchasing and in their sales network.’

Frankland points out that ‘ninety five per cent of our product range doesn’t overlap with Zumtobel’. Indeed, Acdc’s downlight range in the 600 to 1000 lumen class, which is aimed at hospitality applications, would complement Zumtobel’s higher power Panos downlight range, which is aimed primarily at commercial applications.

Frankland expects the full integration – including decisions about how the brands go to market in various territories – would be finalised by the Light + Building show in March.

– Zumtobel has announced that it’s to exhibit in the UK for the first time in many years. It’s taking part in the lightspace dot london show in November, a new event which brings together architects and lighting designers. Other brands takng part include iGuzzini, Hess, Fagerhult, Lyktan, LED Linear, Hoffmeister and GVA. More information at