UK materials handling observers are watching developments in the wake of Briggs Equipment UK Ltd's announcement last week that it is in talks with Yale parent NACCO Materials Handling Group (NMHG) to buy its Yale UK business.
The deal was flagged by Forklfitaction.com News
last week (Forkliftaction.com News #468)
Briggs describes itself as the UK's leading independent service provider and materials handling equipment supplier and currently distributes the Caterpillar line of forklifts in the UK.
Briggs UK spokesman Scott Bullock tells Forkliftaction.com News
that Briggs aims to become the exclusive distributor of Yale Material Handling products in Great Britain from 1 August.
"We will continue to represent Cat until 30 September. After this date we will still continue working with Cat to ensure our current customers continue receiving the levels of service they are accustomed to," says Bullock.
Simon Munn, NMHG's vice president of dealer business development, declines to provide a sale figure for the UK business, but dampens Bullock's ambitions of exclusivity, saying the current Yale UK distributors will continue representing the forklift brand.
"We expect that both Forkway and Lloyd will continue making a valuable contribution to Yale, working closely with Briggs."
A spokesman for Amersham-based Forkway Group says the company has represented Yale for two years and "looks forward to a mutually beneficial working relationship" with Briggs Equipment. Details of that working relationship are being finalised.
Briggs UK's CEO Richard Close says the company is aligning itself with other members of the Sammons equipment distribution division. Briggs UK's parent, Briggs International Inc, is part of the Sammons Enterprises Inc equipment distribution division. Companies in that division include Briggs Equipment Mexico and Briggs Equipment US, which are distributors of Yale products.
A UK forklift industry veteran sees the development as having a big impact on NMHG and Mitsubishi Caterpillar Forklift Equipment (MCFE), estimating Briggs' sales of Cat-branded forklifts account for about 20% of MCFE's Almere production facility annually.
He says the average UK forklift customer does not have any brand loyalty. "He only wants the use of a forklift at the lowest price and have it repaired promptly if it breaks down.
"This [could] mean about 2,500 forklifts a year transferring from MCFE's plant in the Netherlands to the NACCO plant in Craigavon in Ireland. This should mean job security in Craigavon and the opposite in the Netherlands."
The source also says the deal makes Briggs NACCO's largest Yale dealer, putting it alongside Barloworld in importance to NACCO. "It would not surprise me if Briggs has a deal with NACCO as part of this change, whereby in the near future, they could acquire Barloworld's materials handling business in the US, UK and Europe, which would meet Briggs' goal of being the largest forklift dealer in Europe."
Briggs already represents Hyster in Mexico after an acquisition announced in May (Forkliftaction.com News #463)