Multi-brand machinery companies may not be anything breathtakingly new but they are getting more common. One of the latest firms to be bought by a big group was Dutch maker Agrifac, which was snapped up by French sprayer and beet harvester giant Exel Industries in July 2012.
How the different brands will operate has now been sorted out. Agrifac’s beet harvesters will join Exel’s two French beet kit brands – Moreau and Matrot – and its sprayers will help boost the Danish Hardi and French Berthoud and Tecnoma brands.
All these makes have their own factories in France, Holland and Denmark but the parent company says it will retain the different production facilities.
Despite the increasing size of beet harvesters around Europe and a rationalisation of growers, there’s no lack of competition. At least eight makers have self-propelled offerings, including Holmer, Vervaert, Grimme. Matrot, Moreau, Ropa, Kleine and Gilles, so competition is fierce.
With three beet harvester makes in its portfolio, Excel is a strong player in this market. However it has recently rationalised the ranges to make life simpler for growers.
Matrot and Moreau machines will still be sold under their familiar names in France, however all other markets will have Agrifac products only.
The names have been changed too, with the Quatro becoming the LightTraxx, the rubber-tracked Quatro OptiTrackPlus becoming the Optitrax and the Agrifac Big Six turning into the Sixxtraxx.
Meanwhile the Matrot Magister becomes the AutoTraxx and the new Flexxtraxx (based on the Matrot Kroma) will slot in between the Optitraxx and Sixxtraxx.
When it comes to sprayers, Exel is retaining the different brands it owns but Agrifac will be the premium brand in the stable.
Production at the firm’s factory at Steenwijk is being ramped up to meet expanding export markets. The UK is one of the firm’s best markets, with Condor sprayer sales rising from 22 in 2009 to 33 in 2010, 63 in 2011 and 100 last year.
The size of the sprayers is increasing too. In Holland half the sprayers in use now have booms wider than 48m and the biggest ones sport acre-gobbling 51m booms.
Boom widths are rising fast in the UK, too, with 24m the norm and 36m not that unusual.
In fact some 300 new self-propelled sprayers of all makes are sold in the UK each year, split between big-wheel/big tank models from the likes of Challenger, Deere, Amazone and Agrifac and smaller-wheeled models from UK makers like Bateman, Sands, Knight and Househam.
Agrifac has also starting setting up dealerships in the UK, with five planned around the country.
Last year was a busy one for Agrifac on the sprayer front. Its Condor self-propelled range gained ultra-high models for farmers with tall crops like maize and sunflowers to spray and ultra-wide ones for those wanting to straddle several potato rows at a time. The latest models also get engines from FPT rather than Deutz
Tank sizes, topping off at 5,000 litres, will rise to 8,000 litres when the forthcoming giant Condor XL goes on sale in 2014. Meanwhile a range of trailed sprayers will be on offer in 2014, using much of the technology found in the self-propelled models.
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