Qualcast name set to vanish

JOHN EISENHAMMER

Financial Editor

One of the biggest names in British lawnmowers, Atco-Qualcast, is set to disappear from garden centres after being swallowed up by the German industrial conglomerate, Bosch. Atco-Qualcast, based in Stowmarket, Suffolk, and which employs 500 people, announced yesterday that it has been bought for an undisclosed amount. Bosch, which has significant manufacturing interests in Britain, has told staff their jobs are safe.

Atco-Qualcast claims to be the biggest maker of cylinder mowers in Britain. This is a market which has been under pressure for some time from the rival manufacturing technique of rotary mowers. Qualcast has about a 30 per cent share of the total lawnmower market behind Flymo,which produces the "hover-type" mowers.

The firm had agreed to the takeover, saying all its major competitors were owned by bigger European players. The deal gives Bosch access to an important part of the biggest garden tool market in Europe.

Atco-Qualcast will continue to design and build mowers, hedge-cutters and other garden products, but they will be sold under the Bosch brand name.

Last year, Atco-Qualcast made profits of pounds 3m on sales of pounds 40m.

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