Ensto’s “Two businesses, two focuses” strategy drove the acquisition of Renley in Ireland. Ensto Renley now pursues ambitious growth.
When Renley, a manufacturer of low and medium voltage products for distribution system operators (DSOs), came up for sale in Dunboyne, Ireland, the company was immediately on Ensto’s radar. That’s because John Carolan, who’d worked at Ensto UK since 2019, had worked for Renley the previous 16 years.
Ensto’s strategy of “two businesses, two focuses,” and its interest in acquisitions for growth, had been made crystal clear and was top of mind for Carolan. “I knew about potential for growth in the UK and Ireland and this was the driver,” says Carolan, now Managing Director of Ensto Renley. “I knew we could both grow Renley and introduce Ensto products in the UK and Ireland.” Ensto Group management shared his opinion. The acquisition was completed in December 2020.
The two businesses were a good fit. Culturally, there was a match. Renley is well known in its markets for building superior customer relationships. “Lots of customization work is done by Renley for DSO customers,” says Carolan. “You’ve got to understand the market and customer. We’re the first point of contact for developing solutions for our customers. And both Ensto and Renley share an upfront culture: ask a question and you get a straight answer.”
The two companies were also highly compatible at a business level. Renley manufactures both British standard products for the UK and EU standard products which are used in Ireland. Carolan felt that Ensto's underground solution – joints and terminations, network automation solutions – as well as overhead switches, could be sold in the UK. Importantly, he saw the potential for growth in Renley's home market, Ireland.
Renley currently dominates the Irish market for both low voltage overhead fuse switches as well as the underground segment for cabinets and pillars. But in the UK, it is not the market leader. “We’re shooting to significantly grow our share in the UK,” says Carolan.
But how is that achieved? Carolan says it’s done through an aggressive sales focus and drive. “We don’t need more production capacity yet. We’re mostly final assembly and testing on the factory floor. Just-in-time works well for us.” In other words, growth will come from spreading the good word about Ensto Renley.
“We’re known as a company that delivers on promises,” says Carolan, “and this is just a major feature for us. We see the customer challenge and put together solutions for these challenges. We work with procurement and technical. We understand the stakeholder risk. We offer a holistic solution that our competitors cannot offer and, importantly, our customers trust and believe in us.”
Ensto’s acquisition may also give Renley geographic reach that it didn’t have before. Carolan sees longer-term potential for using Ensto’s network to sell Renley's British-standard products in Africa and other parts of the world where it’s in use. He also sees potential application for Renley’s products in renewables like solar and wind, where Ensto has good relationships.
As the two companies begin to integrate their supply chains and operations, Renley will enjoy better buying power and benefit from Ensto’s scale.
“But the big thing is that both Ensto DSO and Ensto Renley expect growth,” says Carolan. “We want to grow our business in the UK and Irish markets, and we also want to integrate and offer value back to Ensto.”
No one is quite sure where the name Renley comes from. “And no one has ever asked until now,” laughs John Carolan, Ensto Renley’s Managing Director.
Legend holds that the “Ren” in Renley came from the last three letters of the founder’s surname, Gabriel Warren. But no one knows about the “ley.” Consider this an invitation to sleuths and fiction writers.