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German conglomerate buys Aylsham firm

PUBLISHED: 10:31 30 January 2009 | UPDATED: 09:22 13 July 2010

A couple who have built up a Norfolk manufacturing business over two decades have sold the firm to a German technology conglomerate.

Roger and Hilary Smith, who founded Eurotek in Aylsham in 1989, have sold the business to GEA Grasso Holdings for an undisclosed sum.

A couple who have built up a Norfolk manufacturing business over two decades have sold the firm to a German technology conglomerate.

Roger and Hilary Smith, who founded Eurotek in Aylsham in 1989, have sold the business to GEA Grasso Holdings for an undisclosed sum.

Eurotek employs more than 20 people and manufactures food freezing and chilling tunnels for the food processing industry - from dairies and bakeries to the meat and poultry industries.

The GEA group is made up of 250 companies in 50 countries, with 20,000 employees and an annual turnover of about e5.2bn.

Mr Smith said: “My wife and I started the business 21 years ago and it's very much been part of our life. Some of the guys who have been working here have been with us for 15 years-plus - we've got a really loyal staff.”

Mr Smith said he would remain with the business for the foreseeable future to ensure there was a smooth change of ownership.

The GEA group said the deal was part of an ongoing strategy to acquire businesses that complemented its technology or geographical reach. Cooling and freezing technology for the food industry is a “key growth area”, GEA said. “The acquisition of Eurotek will ideally complement GEA's freezing business in Europe and enables realisation of further identified growth and synergies,” the group said in a statement.

Tom Gallop, corporate finance director at Baker Tilly - who led the deal with Paul Warman, of Norwich law firm Leathes Prior - said: “The successful completion of this deal shows that it is still possible, in spite of the credit crunch, for business owners to sell their company and achieve a satisfactory exit.

“This was an entirely cash deal, and provides the vendors with the ideal exit from a business they have owned and managed with skill and dedication for almost 20 years.”


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