The Diploma Group is focused on three core sectors with principal businesses as follows:
- Life Sciences - Diploma Healthcare Group, a1-group
- Seals - North American Seals (Hercules Fluid Power Group, VSP Technologies), International Seals (FPE Seals, Kentek, M Seals, Kubo and TotalSeal)
- Controls - Wire and Cabling (Windy City Wire, Shoal Group), Interconnect (IS-Group, Filcon), Specialty Fasteners (Clarendon) and Fluid Controls (Hawco Group)
Diploma was originally incorporated in 1931 and listed on the London Stock Exchange in 1960. In 1969, the Group started to acquire a number of industrial companies.
Through the 1970's and 1980's, Diploma built leading market positions in three core activity areas, all in the UK:
- Electronic Component Distribution (Macro and Nortronic)
- Building Products (IG and Robert Lee)
- Special Steels (Henry Whitham)
In the 1990's these traditional core businesses matured into cyclical, lower margin businesses. A new acquisition programme was introduced to diversify into new more attractive sectors.
Towards the end of the 1990's there was a simultaneous downturn in the three traditional businesses. It was apparent that they were in structural decline and this prompted the decision to embark upon a radical re-structuring of the Group.
Over the three years from 1998 to 2001, ten businesses were sold generating proceeds of more than £90m. Of this, £70m was returned to shareholders through a Scheme of Arrangement in April 2000 and various share buy-backs. The balance was retained to fund future acquisitions and growth initiatives. This phase of re-structuring delivered an increase in shareholder value of more than 80% over the three year period.
The restructuring has also changed the geographic spread of the businesses. From being a predominantly UK based Group, Diploma is now more international. Approximately 25% of the Group's revenues are now generated in the UK, with the balance mostly being generated in North America and Continental Europe.
The Group is now actively seeking further acquisitions to accelerate growth and to build substantial, broader based businesses in the core sectors of Life Sciences, Seals and Controls.