7 August 1998

Claas franchise threatened by loader changes

By Andy Collings

FRANCHISE agreements between JCB and Claas UK could be threatened by changes to the companys involvement in the telehandler market.

"When Claas acquired control of the Sanderson product range the objective was to market telehandlers as a Claas product in Continental Europe and retain the Sanderson brand in the UK – due to the fact that most Claas dealers at that time supported a different brand of telehandler," explains Merv George, Claas marketing director.

"With the collapse of Matbro – and its design rights purchased by Deere, the alliance between New Holland and Manitou, and the marketing by MF of the FDI Sambron products the position has now changed.

"The most sensible course of action is to market the Sanderson telehandler as a Claas product in green livery."

If the JCB franchise agreement ceases, Claas says it will honour a three-year service agreement with existing customers.

Coincidentally, and some might say fortuitously, Claas has plans to market in mainland Europe a hi-speed MB-trac look-alike, which could be seen as a competitor for the JCB Fastrac.

The tractor is currently being built in Landtechnik Schonebeck (LTS) – the activities of which Claas has signed a letter of intent to take over. A new factory is planned for the Schonebeck area in which self-propelled forage harvesters will also be built.

"As with the Caterpillar Challengers, we are looking to supply a niche market," maintains Mr George, who refutes any suggestion that Claas is now looking to enter the mainstream tractor market.