By James Wells

MELBOURNE: Two premium family-owned Victorian businesses, whitegoods specialist Sampford & Staff and heating specialist IXL Appliances will merge on 1 February 2007 to become Sampford IXL with current Sampford & Staff MD Paul Bridgeford to run the new company.

Backwell IXL has stressed that only the IXL Appliances business is involved in the merger with Sampford & Staff.

The current managing director of Sampford & Staff, Paul Bridgeford, will be the managing director of Sampford IXL and work with a new management team comprised of both IXL and Sampford executives. The board of Sampford IXL will include representatives from both the IXL and Sampford boards, and all critical business decisions will be taken jointly.

According to a joint statement from Sampford & Staff chairman – Charles Sampford and Backwell IXL chairman – Robert Backwell, the merger will deliver centralised business practices, while remaining an Australian owned business.

"We are pleased to announce that on the 1st February 2007, IXL Appliances and Sampford & Staff Pty Ltd will merge to form a new company called Sampford IXL," the statement said.

"The merger of these two highly respected Australian family businesses paves the way for a bigger, brighter and a more streamlined organisation. Importantly the new Sampford IXL will remain wholly Australian.

"The two companies are recognised leaders in the premium home appliance industry; together they provide an even greater range of leading brands and will set a new benchmark in product innovation. 

The shared business practices include marketing, ordering, distribution and logistics as well as customer support, sales representation and client services.

"As we proceed to integrate the two companies over the coming months, positive changes will be introduced and we are committed to keep you abreast of developments as they occur," the statement said.

"Our sales team will undertake regular face-to-face meetings providing an immediate gateway for any questions and we welcome your feedback. This is in place to ensure business to business operations run smoothly and more efficiently."

"The market in which the two companies operate is constantly growing and providing new challenges. The new business will bring together a wide range of world class products and brands, and centralise many of the business practices.

"As we move forward the synergies achieved by this will improve our service and efficiencies providing many benefits to our customers and suppliers alike.

Backwell IXL, the owner of IXL Appliances, is a family owned business based in Geelong and was established in 1858 with appliance, metal stamping and metal casting operations. IXL Appliances distributes, and in some cases manufactures, a range of heating, cooling and other domestic appliances, which are sold to retail customers in Australia and New Zealand.

The IXL Tastic bathroom heat vent and light product range has been the market leader for over 25 years, and now also is exported to the UK and Ireland.

IXL Appliances has a national head office and manufacturing centre at Wood St Geelong, Victoria with outsourced distribution at Tullamarine Victoria, Perth WA, Launceston Tasmania and Auckland New Zealand.

Sampford & Staff, founded by Horrie Sampford over 50 years ago have since inception imported, distributed and manufactured some of the world’s premium kitchen, bathroom, heating and lifestyle brands.

Based on Smith Street in the Melbourne suburb of Fitzroy, Sampford & Staff is the Australian distributor for Gaggenau, Neff, La Germania, Jenn-Air, Hansgrohe, Mirror Image and Revox products. Sampford & Staff also produces the Cannon range of gas log heaters.

Sampford and Staff have a national head office and showroom on Smith St in Fitzroy and a national distribution centre at Fairfield in Melbourne and showrooms in Perth and Sydney.

The new business will retain offices in Melbourne and Geelong.