Pierre Frey buys the English printer Bernard Thorp

Maison Pierre Frey announced last week that it had acquired the English company Bernard Thorp, an artisan manufacturer of custom fabrics and wallpapers. This decision marks the first acquisition of the French brand outside its country of origin. Terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

Founded in 1971, Bernard Thorp is a boutique (its team numbers five people in total) known in the high-end home industry for its tradition of hand screen printing. For the founder of La Maison Pierre Frey Pierre Freythe appeal lay in both Bernard Thorp’s expert printing process and its international reputation – although it had yet to prove to the previous owner Greg Kinsella that the benefits of the sale would go both ways.

Bernard Thorp offers hundreds of hand-printed designsCourtesy of Pierre Frey

“[Kinsella] wanted to pass the business on to someone who understood the quality of the piece of jewelry he would have in his hands,” explains Frey, who highlighted his company’s acquisitions of the textile brands Braquenié, Boussac, Fadini-Borghi, Le Manach and Sequana. over the past. three decades as proof of a positive balance sheet. “We’ve always been able to keep the name, keep the identity of the brand and keep the level of quality and uniqueness that it has. And I think [Kinsella] was drawn to it.

The strategy, according to Frey, is to focus first on maintaining Bernard Thorp’s existing operations by keeping things small, an approach the printer’s unique methods require anyway. The printing process developed by the founder Bernard Thorpe requires two artisans to manually move a screen the length of a printing table in a convenient method that allows the company to print on cotton, linen, jutes, silks, moires, velvets, suedes, papers or non-wovens. The small batch approach also gives the company the ability to offer custom prints for minimum orders as low as five meters.

All prints are created in the company’s workshop in Norfolk, England, and have been since the company was founded 51 years ago. From the company’s earliest days, Thorp brought his early collections to life by acquiring artists’ designs or drawing inspiration from antique fabrics found at auction houses. Over the years, the brand has brought in iconic interior designers such as David Hicks and John Fowler for the collaborations – partnerships that have yielded a striking mix to the company’s design bank, which ranges from contemporary stripes and geometric patterns to sprawling florals in warm midtones.

Today, the brand offers 470 different designs available in 300 adjustable shades, though each order is made-to-order and customizable. The offer will be a first for the Pierre Frey brands, which do not count screenprinters among them, and which Frey sees as a potential favorite among the textile house’s clientele. While he expects growth on the horizon from Bernard Thorp, he says the first priority is to strengthen the newly acquired company and welcome it into the Pierre Frey house of brands. “For now, we’re just going to focus on protecting what we have and safeguarding what we’ve gained,” Frey said. “We are at the beginning of the story.

Homepage photo: Exterior of Bernard Thorp’s London headquarters | Courtesy of Pierre Frey