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Fighting talk as Bamford plots to tread on Cat's tail

SIR ANTHONY Bamford has set his face against the current trend for global alliances and boldly declared JCB's intention to rise from fifth to second in the world league through organic growth.

'Within five years we will position JCB globally as the only alternative to Caterpillar, ' he said.

Declaring a new era for the company as a global manufacturer, manufacturing on three continents, Sir Anthony scotched rumours of acquisitions and alliances.

He said: 'We have seen many acquisitions and for many companies it is the right response. . . but it is by no means a uniform strategic requirement. JCB is not for sale. We have the muscle, nerves, brain and bottle to take on the world and shake it up, and we will put the weight of resources towards sustained investment.'

Announcing a record £70 million annual investment, both in products and new factories, Sir Anthony said: 'We mean business. We have outpaced economic growth and we know our strengths: quality, cost containment and competitive pricing.

'We know we have weaknesses, we are coming from behind in the US and Germany. If our commitment is called into question, we have to convince people we are here to stay.'

He said that the growth would come from specific areas, particularly in customer support and use of the Internet, with the setting up of a dealer intranet system.

'Machines are no longer enough, we will build this industry's finest support network.'

Sir Anthony played down the impact of the weak euro, which caused problems at UK-based firms. 'We wouldn't have made the profits we made if currency was such a mammoth problem, ' he said.

JCB also launched a range of models, including new Loadall telehandlers at the higher and lower ends of its range, 9.5 m and 17.5 m lift heights and a new zero tailswing excavator, the JZ 70.

Alongside this, the company unveiled a concept tracked backhoe, based on the 1CX wheeled version, which is aimed at the increasing number of jobs that need lowground pressure.

Sir Anthony said JCB's new range of dump trucks, officially unveiled in Paris, was a response to environmental strictures.

'The dump truck market has grown as legislation is forcing people to bury spoil on site rather than move it, ' he said.

Asked whether the company would bring out larger machines, he said: 'Watch this space.'