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Disinfectant wipes maker snaps up European distributor in £6m deal

PUBLISHED: 15:22 20 November 2018 | UPDATED: 16:37 20 November 2018

Tristel endoscope products Picture: TRISTEL

Tristel endoscope products Picture: TRISTEL

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A fast-growing East Anglian firm specialising in infection prevention products has made an “important strategic advance” into Europe after snapping up one of its distributors for £6m.

Paul Swinney, chief executive of Tristel, thinks the latest acquisition will help the company post-Brexit  Picture: GREGG BROWNPaul Swinney, chief executive of Tristel, thinks the latest acquisition will help the company post-Brexit Picture: GREGG BROWN

Tristel, which is based at Snailwell, near Newmarket, expects Ecomed, which has acted as its distributor in Belgium, Holland, Luxembourg and – more recently – France, to boost its earnings through its highly experienced team.

This is led by brothers Bart and Jan Leemans, its owners, who will stay on at the firm, with Bart joining the Tristel board as an executive director. Ecomed has an office and warehousing facility in Belgium.

In the year ending June 30, 2018, Ecomed sales hit 3.07m euros (£2.73m), of which 2.54m euros (£2.26m) was from Tristel products.

The acquisition, which will help the firm to position itself post-Brexit, expands Tristel’s footprint of wholly-owned operations across continental Europe. The manufacturer now operates from subsidiaries in Belgium, Netherlands, France, Germany, Poland and Switzerland and has a 20% stake in Tristel Italia Srl. Its salesforce has increased to 18 across continental Europe and eight in the UK.

The Tristel offices at Snailwell Picture: GREGG BROWNThe Tristel offices at Snailwell Picture: GREGG BROWN

Ecomed’s 14,000sq ft office, warehousing and logistics hub in Antwerp will be “very be very beneficial to Tristel’s European operations post Brexit”, it said.

Bart Leemans, who previously launched various e-commerce businesses, founded the Ecomed Group in 2005, and became Tristel’s distributor in Belgium in the same year. Ecomed Netherlands was incorporated in 2013 and Ecomed France in 2016.

Tristel chief executive Paul Swinney said the acquisition was an important advance for the firm, and particularly the largely untapped French market.

“We are very pleased to announce the purchase from Bart and Jan Leemans of their businesses in Benelux and France, and to welcome them and their highly experienced team into the Tristel group,” he said.

Tristel's factory at Snailwell, near Newmarket Picture: TRISTELTristel's factory at Snailwell, near Newmarket Picture: TRISTEL

“France, in particular, is a very undeveloped market for Tristel. Sales of our products in the country are only a fraction of those that we achieve in Germany, a market of comparable size.

“With a direct presence and an expanded sales team we are targeting rapid growth in France and will continue to increase our market share in Belgium and the Netherlands.”

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