25 February 2000

Caterpillar takes over Claas teleporter plant

By Mike Williams

CATERPILLAR has signed an agreement to take over the Claas range of telescopic loaders, but Claas will continue to sell agricultural versions of the loaders in the UK and the rest of Europe.

Under the agreement Caterpillar will take over the Claas Teleporter production plant at Saxham, Suffolk, where they will continue to build loaders designed for the agricultural market. Most of these will be finished in Claas colours and will be sold through the Claas dealer network throughout Europe.

Production of construction /industrial versions of the loaders will be switched to the Caterpillar plant near Leicester, which already produces a range of high capacity loaders. They will be sold under the Caterpillar brand name through the companys worldwide dealer network. Caterpillar will also be responsible for future teleloader product development for both the agricultural and industrial markets.

The deal, which is subject to EC approval, is due to take effect later this year, and is the latest stage in the development of closer commercial links between the two companies. Under existing agreements Claas took over the European distribution of Caterpillars rubber-tracked Challenger tractors three years ago, while Caterpillar became the Claas combine distributor for the United States and Canada.

Clive Last, Claas UK chief executive, says the existing distribution agreements have been extremely successful.

"Both companies have actually exceeded the targets stated in their business plans, and this has been achieved at a time when tractor and machinery sales have been shrinking," he says. "Although the telescopic loader agreement is starting this year, it was actually included in the original discussions which took place five years ago when the tractor and combine harvester distribution was agreed."

The new agreement offers substantial benefits, says Mr Last. "Caterpillar and Claas dealers will have access to a broader range of machines, and it will also expose the loaders to a much bigger market.

"Under Claas distribution the loaders were exposed to the agricultural market in Europe totalling about 6000 units a year. The combination of Caterpillar and Claas distribution means we can attack almost the whole agricultural and construction markets worldwide, amounting to about 24,000 machines a year," he says.

"Increased sales volumes mean you get extra buying power, and that is an important advantage."

Caterpillar is set to take over the Claas range of telescopic loaders.