26 May 1995

Boost for Matbro as JD chooses UK-built loaders

By Andrew Faulkner

IRISH materials handler maker Matbro has agreed to build telescopic loaders for John Deere.

Liveried in JD colours, the handlers will be powered by Deere engines and sold through the tractor firms European, African and Middle East dealer network – including the UK.

The deal, which was finalised last week, is limited to Matbros rigid all-wheel-steer machines and does not cover the firms "Teleram-type" TR250 and TR200 pivot-steer models. These models, along with Matbros full telescopic handler range, will continue to be sold in yellow colours through the firms existing dealer network.

"This represents a big boost for our agricultural engineering industry, as a whole," says Eddie Holmes, Matbros managing director. "It is the first time that John Deere, which is the worlds largest manufacturer of farm equipment, has chosen to buy self-propelled machinery built in the UK."

For John Deere, the agreement complies with its policy to provide JD dealers with a full machinery line-up – not just tractors.

"Extending our product range allows the dealer to more completely serve his customer from a single supplier," says Alec McKee, managing director of John Deere. "As well as improving our service to the farmer, we can also optimise our existing service and parts delivery systems."

For Matbro this is not its first such manufacturer tie-up. In 1994 it signed a deal with US construction equipment firm, Ingersoll Rand, enabling it to break into the lucrative American market.

Linking into JDs 600-strong dealer network will give Matbro instant access to a wider, pan-European market. But the deal is bound to cause concern among the Irish firms existing UK dealers. To what extent their sales of yellow Perkins-powered machines will be affected, now that they will be competing with John Deere dealers, is not yet known.

"The arrangement with John Deere will increase our total sales in the European market, but we are still totally committed to our existing dealers in the UK. It is important for us to protect our own identity," Mr Holmes says. &#42

Yellow to green… From November, farmers will be able to buy Matbros yellow all-wheel-steer handlers in a different colour. Powered by Deere engines, the machines will be badged John Deere and painted green.