On November 1, 2021, came the announcement that Swedish durable medical equipment provider Permobil − who have footholds in the seating, manual, power wheelchair, and power assist product spaces, as well as other offerings − were in the process of acquiring fellow Swedish brand Panthera. The deal marks a new shift in the lightweight wheelchair market.
Founded in 1989, Panthera’s stated mission is to create the world’s lightest manual wheelchairs. Their branding focuses on the use of carbon fiber to try to combine ease of use with durability. Though the company exports to forty countries, Permobil says that the upcoming acquisition, for an unreleased fee, means an initial focus on the European market.
“They have a very strong position on the North European market, specifically Sweden, and Norway, and also [the] UK. The Panthera products will, of course, reach Europe and then the rest of the world,” says Permobil’s vice president of group communications Martinus Rönnerman.
Permobil has existed since 1967 and, alongside their acquisition of TiLite in 2014, also own one of the most common cushion companies in ROHO. The choice to acquire Panthera is one that Rönnerman says is partially because of their matching ideologies as Swedish brands, pointing to a “same culture” at the two companies.
“Swedish brands, they do have a reputation of being high quality, transparent, sustainable, very innovative [...] and I think that is something that is really, really important when we market our products around the world.”
In the press release that accompanied the announcement, Panthera owner Jalle Jungnell echoed the sentiments of those at Permobil. “[...] It feels very exciting and inspiring to continue our journey together with Permobil. We have the same passion for our users and share the same values. We deliver products and knowledge, which makes everyday life easier for our users who are in focus. Both companies are started by Swedish entrepreneurs and have innovation and development as a strong driving force. We see that this will lead to a lot of positives for users around the world!”
Meanwhile, on the Permobil side, CEO and president Bengt Thorsson said that the combination of the two companies will strengthen the experience for the end-user.
“Panthera’s employees have made a fantastic journey and we look forward to continuing this journey together with them. Panthera´s products strengthen Permobil’s offering in the market with the world's lightest wheelchairs for active users, alongside our Progeo and TiLite ranges.”
The two companies operate on vastly different scales. Permobil boasts a workforce of over 1600 employees in 17 countries. By contrast, Panthera advertises having closer to 60.
The deal looks to be completed in January 2022.