FKI Logistex has sold its UK lifting gear distribution business, Certex UK, to the company’s directors for £5.2m ($9.6m).

‘FKI has been looking at the strategy and philosophy of its business on the back of the appointment of a new chief executive 18 months ago,’ said Certex UK sales and marketing director Charles Gillespie.

‘Out of that review it has affirmed that it is a manufacturing business. When it originally purchased Bridon in 1997, Bridon came with Certex, which is essentially a value-added distributor.’

The UK divestiture is the latest in a series. The US and Netherlands Certex businesses have been sold to their management, and the France business was sold to third party Barciet, Gillespie said.

As part of the deal, Certex has signed a three-year contract to distribute Bridon wire ropes. He said the company has looser agreements with suppliers the Crosby Group and Parsons Chain. Over the past few years, the company has started to sell Modulift spreader beams and now sells Morris electric chain hoists. ‘We will not ditch our main suppliers overnight,’ Gillespie said.

The company is also hoping to hire new service engineers to expand its overhead crane installation, inspection and servicing operations. The company currently offers these services only in south Wales and the south west of England and has installed ‘tens’ of cranes over the last two or three years, Gillespie said.

‘If we’ve got a contract for loose lifting gear, then there is a high probability the customer has overhead cranes as well. We want to be able to offer a complete service,’ Gillespie said.

The company, estimated by Gillespie to have a 2004 sales revenue of £12m ($23m), has 15 locations and 150 employees in the UK.

Certex is now run by managing director Tony Stringer, sales and marketing director Charles Gillespie and Kevin Smith, who has moved from Bridon to become operations director.

Adrian Tompkinson has also been appointed as Financial Director and Paul Auston, owner of one of Certex’s key suppliers, Checkmate, will act as non-executive chairman.

Financing comes from the directors, Bank of Ireland subsidiary Enterprise Finance Europe, and £2m from vendor FKI.