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Beijer Ref heats up UK refrigeration market with purchase of remaining 56% of wholesaler HRP

Swedish wholesale giant says operating HRP alongside Dean & Wood and RW Refrigeration Wholesale will ‘confirm the Group’s position as the market leader in the United Kingdom”

The Swedish refrigeration group, Beijer Ref has confirmed one of the longest-running items of industry speculation by acquiring the remaining 56 per cent of shares in the wholesaler HRP and operating it alongside Dean & Wood and RW Refrigeration Wholesale.

HRP which has 170 employees and turnover of around £38 million, operates 15 branches alongside its Rougham, Suffolk head office. The company was founded in 1945 by Bill Curtis, beginning by manufacturing brass fittings, valves and pressure vessels.

Per Bertland, CEO of Beijer Ref. said: ”With the acquisition of HRP, we consolidate Beijer Ref’s operation in the important UK market. The three companies will continue to operate under their respective brands. However, through the joint group affiliation, we will be able to offer even better service and more efficient logistics, which improves our total offer in a competitive market.”

Beijer said the HRP line currently comprises around 10,000 products incuding Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Samsung, Toshiba, Danfoss, Emerson Climate Technologies; Lawton Tubes, BOC, Aspera and L’Unite. It noted that HRP has experienced profitability problems in recent years and said that the decision to acquire the remaining shares is based on the fact it ‘sees good opportunities for reversing this trend through the efficient co-ordination with the Group’s existing UK refrigeration operations and by implementing a fully-comprehensive UK logistics network.’

The announcement has inevitably led to speculaiton that the Beijer group will seek to consolidate the number of brands on offer, as well as to reduce overlap in the branch network. Currently six HRP branches are in the same cities as D&W branches:Birmingham, Bristol, Glasgow, Leeds, Newcastle and Norwich.

Beijer, which already owned 44 per cent of the shares, bought the remaining stake from the Curtis family. Kingsley Curtis, the chairman of HRP and son of the founder died in August - the Fred Jamieson Award for Industry Achievement was awarded in his memory in the 2015 Cooling Awards.

Beijer assumed its original stake in HRP when it bought Carrier Corporation’s refrigeration wholesale operation in Europe and South Africa in 2009, leading to fervent industry speculation that it would seek to buy the rest of the business.

The principal HRP shareholder Yvonne Curtis, Mr Curtis’s widow, said: “The Board of HRP believes that becoming full members of the Beijer Ref team in the UK represents the best opportunity for the future development of HRP. With the skills and resources of a larger group behind us we will be better placed to address the new markets opening up in our business.”

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