Managing director Tony Stringer said: “We are confident that Certex UK will retain its core values bringing only positive change for our customers and staff.”

Certex’s three owner-directors – Tony Stringer (managing director), Charles Gillespie (sales and marketing) and Kevin Smith (operations) – who acquired Certex UK from Bridon International in 2005 as the result of a successful management buyout, agreed to sell Certex UK for an undisclosed sum to Forankra International AB, a Swedish subsidiary of Axel Johnson International and a market leader in the supply of lifting and lashing equipment across Europe.


Credit: Guzelian

Pictured (left to right): Certex UK sales and marketing director, Charles Gillespie; finance director Adrian Tomkinson; managing director, Tony Stringer; and operations director, Kevin Smith

A further nine Certex companies are currently owned by Forankra, including Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden and Germany.

Axel Johnson International first approached Certex UK during 2007 with a view to expanding its Certex network. This means that Certex UK will retain its name, current autonomous infrastructure, directors and senior management team and existing UK premises.

Certex’s annual turnover has grown from £12.5m to in excess of £18m with a related profit increase for the same period and the number of employees rising from 154 to 185.

Commercial advantages include “access to funding to accelerate Certex UK’s acquisition strategy within the UK, and a stronger international offshore presence,” it claimed.

Tony Stringer said: “When Axel Johnson first approached us last year it was not part of our business plan to seek a purchaser for Certex UK. Their interest was both flattering and reassuring but having worked so hard to grow the company since we bought it, we were reluctant to let it go.” A stance also adopted by finance director Adrian Tomkinson.

Stringer added though: “Once we began discussions with Forankra it became apparent that we could benefit from the commercial strength of joining such a prestigious international group without losing out on any of the autonomy and high levels of customer service we enjoy at ground level.”

Sven-Olof Berntsson, managing director of Forankra International, responded: “Our customer base includes some of the world’s largest shipping and transport companies, as well as leading players in the airline, mining, steel, paper, engineering and manufacturing industries.”

The announcement coincides with Certex UK’s move into new purpose-built headquarters at Harworth, Nottinghamshire. More than £400,000 has been invested in new manufacturing and testing equipment including two new 10t overhead travelling cranes to allow the handling of larger weights. Seven of the company’s regional lifting centres have been moved into new premises while a further £200,000 has been spent on a fleet of new service vehicles.

Since the buyout three years ago, Certex UK has also acquired RopeTek Ltd. and Certex Defence (both South West), formerly Global Defence Procurement Ltd., with offices at naval bases in Plymouth and Portsmouth servicing marine and industrial equipment to the MoD and its prime contractors.

A new lifting centre has also opened in Aberdeen as part of the company’s commitment to increasing services for offshore customers.