One of the UK’s leading decorators’ merchants, PaintWell, is starting a new chapter in its history

With over 80 years of combined experience, PaintWell is a one-stop shop for all painting and decorating needs, from supplies and materials to tools and accessories. Formerly known as Bromborough Paints, PaintWell today focuses on quality, with a huge range of trade-quality paints from major brands like Crown, Farrow & Ball, and Cuprinol comprising its product portfolio.

However, PaintWell offers a service that goes beyond the product, priding itself on using its decades of industry experience and expertise to deliver positive and meaningful customer service. Keith Reville, PaintWell’s CEO, joins us to discuss the company’s evolution, recent store openings, and plans for the future as it looks to strengthen its market presence.

“We’re truly independent and intent on bringing our customers the widest range of high-quality paints and associated products from the world’s leading supplier,” he opens. “Our portfolio tackles the widest range of applications in the industry, offering designer, decorative, industrial, and architectural covering solutions, as well as everything in between that customers need to get the job done well.

“Our broad range is what we’ve become renowned for, with particular expertise in intumescent, cladding, roofing, and thermoplastics. We’ve also set up exclusive partnerships with innovative brands like Caparol and Tikkurila, and I am constantly amazed by the things we help customers to achieve.

“There are literally hundreds of factors at play in choosing the right product for the application: color, finish, application methods, interior, exterior, intumescent, durability, environmental or architectural specifications – the list goes on and on. With this in mind, it’s crucial that we provide the highest possible standards of customer service and care, coupled with the best technical support and industry know-how.

“We have a team of knowledgeable, helpful, and dedicated people to guide our customers’ decisions and offer personal recommendations or design suggestions. We ultimately want to make it as easy as possible for customers to do business with us, whether it’s in our branches, on our website, over the phone, or via participation in social media and industry forums.”

Strategic acquisitions
Reflecting on the history of the company, Keith explains: “Parts of this business have been around in one shape or form since Kent Blaxill was founded in 1838. Bromborough Paints, the forerunner of PaintWell, was founded in 1948, and Promain was founded in 1986, so we have a vast amount of collective paint experience.

“In 2021, Cairngorm Capital Partners (CCP) purchased Bromborough Paints and subsequently rebranded the business to its current name. We then went on to acquire Promain and Kent Blaxill in late 2022, which saw us become one of the largest and fastest-growing independent decorators’ merchants in the UK.

“Specifically, Kent Blaxill extended our branch network beyond traditional markets in the Northwest and strengthened the reach of our ecommerce offering, accelerating our national presence. Following the acquisition, we grew to 46 branches that span the country, stretching from Cumbria down to Kent. We have now fully rebranded the Kent Blaxill network to PaintWell, which has provided us with national exposure and has been received well by both customers and colleagues.

“Promain, on the other hand, is the undisputed leader in specialist industrial paints and surface coatings, so this acquisition focused on integrating the businesses to create a unique value proposition in the market, alongside the growing network.

“We’ve spent 2023 integrating the businesses and focusing on ensuring a seamless transition for our customers, colleagues, and suppliers. This year, we also hit the milestone of opening our 50th PaintWell store, which opened in Derby in September, quickly followed by a further two branches in December, taking us to a total of 52 locations.

“We take an omnichannel approach to our branding, using the full marketing mix. It starts with opening new branches with a clear, unique format and the widest possible range of applications. We then focus on everything around the branch like branded vans, mail drops, email lists, and social media.

“We use a range of performance marketing techniques to build presence and sales through our website in a way that is helpful to our customers and complementary to our stores. Anything not available in-store can be ordered for next-day delivery or collection, for example, and as ever, our biggest brand ambassadors are our colleagues in the branches.”

Future plans
Returning to the topic of 2023, Keith reflects: “Last year also came with its challenges, but we’ve worked with our suppliers on new system implementations and processes to come out the other side. We’ve challenged our suppliers and partners to ‘rethink PaintWell’ – we’re no longer a collection of small business, but rather a national, positively disruptive network united under a single brand, with the uniqueness of Promain’s technical expertise as part of our offer.

“2024 will see us continue to expand our network under a single unified brand,” Keith proposes. “We want to add improved functionalities to our website to deliver a more useful, easy to navigate site that aids both browsing and shopping. This will help to provide increased brand visibility across the UK, as we’re also looking to add more exclusives to our portfolio via partnerships with innovative ‘challenger’ manufacturers with a focus on our sustainability agenda.

“Further afield? Well, the sky’s the limit! I’d like to see us as a bigger network, serving more customers around the country with an even broader range than we have today. There are lots of opportunities to improve our offering, both for trade and retail customers.

“We will continue to grow the network, whether through organic growth or acquiring companies that align with our overall culture and goals,” Keith concludes. “Ultimately, I can see us becoming the most loved independent decorators’ merchant in the country, by colleagues, customers, suppliers, and investors alike.”