Boss ready to spend pounds 10m on upgrade for UK forklift factory

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The Independent Online
JUNGHEINRICH, the German company that bought Lancer Boss in May, will announce this week that it intends to spend up to pounds 10m on its forklift truck factory at Leighton Buzzard. It has already said it is spending pounds 1m on revamping Boss's UK service network.

Although the investment is awaiting final approval from the board in Hamburg, Robert Bischof, Boss's chairman, is expected to say that he wants to re- equip the factories and to concentrate operations, which are scattered over the town, on one site.

In 1992 the previous owners, Sir Neville and Trevor Bowman- Shaw, obtained permission to build a new factory on Green Belt land. It is unlikely that the Germans will use this permission, however, preferring to redevelop an industrial site.

The announcement will be seen by the unions and management as justifying their vocal support for Jungheinrich during the takeover battle. Lancer Boss went into receivership in early April, and the final battle was between the German company, which had already take over its Bavarian subsidiary in controversial circumstances, and Clark of the US.

The Bowman-Shaws were highly critical of Jungheinrich's tactics in the run-up to the receivership, accusing it of using strong- arm tactics to force them to sell out for a nominal sum. The British receivers also accused their German counterpart of selling the Bavarian company to Jungheinrich too precipitately.

However, Mr Bischof said last week that the Germans would have made a big mistake buying Lancer Boss before the receivership. 'For example, there was a building at Leighton Buzzard that was costing pounds 620,000 a year,' he said. 'That could have bankrupted Lancer Boss - but after the receivership we did not have to take it over.'