Workers began the first phase of construction on Unilin’s Thomasville, N.C., plant last year.

Furthering its quest to become "a total flooring company," Mohawk Industries said it has agreed to acquire the maker of the popular laminate flooring brand Quick-Step for about $2.6 billion. The move to buy the Belgium-based company, Unilin Holding NV, comes three years after Mohawk became a top player in ceramic flooring by paying $1.8 billion to acquire Dal-Tile.

The addition of Quick Step to Mohawk's product line will similarly give the Calhoun, Ga.-based manufacturer a dominant position in the fast growing laminate category. At the same time, Mohawk will have immediate access to a greatly expanded European distribution network and a management team that knows the territory.

In announcing the deal, which is expected to be finalized before the end of the year subject to regulatory approvals and other closing conditions, Mohawk said Quick-Step will continue to be sold through its existing distribution network. It added that "new brands and products will be introduced to meet the needs of the market."

"Unilin is a leader in high-end laminate with strong positions in both the U.S. and Europe," said Mohawk's chairman and CEO, Jeffrey S. Lorberbaum. He attributed the company's market position and strong profit margins to "the superior performance of the current operating management team who has developed one of the best recognized brands in Quick-Step."

Currently, Unilin is finishing the first phase of construction on a previously announced 1.1 million square foot manufacturing plant in Thomasville, N.C. Incorporating 600,000 square feet of new space, the first phase includes the construction of the press, cutting & milling, and impregnation buildings, as well as a 14-dock packaging and distribution center. The plant began production in July, with additional construction to the distribution center slated to be finished this month, Unilin says.

Mohawk's recently announced plans to acquire Unilin will not affect the future of the Thomasville plant, according to Meagan Bisher, a spokeswoman for Quick-Step. "The acquisition is not going to affect any of those plans we already have set in place," she said in a phone interview with NFT. "Unilin will continue to operate independently."