London-based Wolseley plc is in the process of merging Ferguson Enterprises, Familian Northwest and Westburne USA

London-based Wolseley plc is in the process of merging Ferguson Enterprises (Newport News, Va.), Familian Northwest (Portland, Ore.) and Westburne USA (formerly owned by Rexel Canada, St. Laurent, Quebec, and acquired by Wolseley last year).

"The three separate companies will become one, with one simplified management and structure," said a Wolseley spokesperson. "The whole branding issue is still under review. In the meantime, they will continue to operate under their individual brand names, which carry a great deal of good will and name recognition.

"The U.S. operations of Westburne will be fully integrated into Wolseley¿s existing U.S. plumbing operations over the next two years. This will enable synergies and cost savings to be achieved, which are expected to substantially improve the performance of Westburne¿s U.S. business by the third year. The integration process is proceeding on schedule and should be completed by summer 2003," she said.

The company now feels that the timing is right to fully leverage the strength of Wolseley in its U.S. plumbing effort. Today, the combined Ferguson, Familian NW and Westburne USA organization has sales of nearly $5 billion (U.S.), which makes it the largest distributor in the U.S. market, according to Wolseley.

As part of this process, Bob Johnson joined the Ferguson senior management team as senior vice president/Northwest branch operations, effective Jan. 1. Based in Portland, Ore., his responsibilities will continue to include his current role with Familian NW as the company focuses on growing in the Northwest area of the United States. Also he will join the Ferguson integration team to help develop and guide the future direction of the newly combined companies in the United States.

"Despite the uncertainty in some of our markets, we remain confident about the future of the business," said Chip Hornsby, chief executive of Wolseley plc¿s U.S. Plumbing and Heating Division. "The combination of these three companies will create positive benefits for the Group and an exciting platform for continued growth in the United States."

In other news, Ferguson appointed Nick Colletti to president/general manager for the Hayward, Calif. Branch; Steve Lynch to president/general manager for the Des Moines, Iowa branch; Joseph Sitek to president/general manager for the Duluth, Minn. branch; Ronald Bullington to president/general manager for the Fresno, Calif. branch; and Michael Draper to president/general manager for the Milwaukee, Wis. branch.