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JCB pu rchase grows global share

PLANT World number four slot is in reach as manufacturer expands its product range and starts building facility in China

JCB IS set to become the fourth best-selling plant manufacturer in the world by units sold this year, according to the firm's chief executive John Patterson.

The company, which expects to sell over 40,000 machines in 2005, is expanding on several fronts. The announcement last week that it has bought privately-owned German roller manufacturer Vibromax came at the same time it started construction of its long-awaited factory in China. JCB has yet to reveal what it will build in the £10 million plant.

The Vibromax deal will bring JCB its first line of compaction equipment ? a 35-machine line, ranging from large single-drum rollers down to plate compactors. The move will put it head-to-head with specialists like Bomag and Dynapac, as well as bigger rival Caterpillar.

Mr Patterson said: 'There are three main reasons why this is a good buy: firstly the product range is excellent; secondly it compliments our current range; and thirdly it serves the same customer base.' The company intends to run it as a separate division, to be named JCB Vibromax. The German management and distribution will be retained but a divisional managing director will be appointed, Mr Patterson said.

The purchase of the £28 million turnover firm will bring JCB its first factory in continental Europe, in the eastern German city of Leipzig. The site currently produces 2,500 machines a year but it has the capacity to increase production significantly.

Mr Patterson said: 'It is much larger than that needed for the current business.' He added that JCB would look to at least double the roller brand's current 4-5 per cent market share as the products were introduced into dealer's ranges. JCB will gain its first light equipment in the form of hand-held rammers, which will be channelled through its new compact network.

Mr Patterson played down the fact that Vibromax was based in continental Europe, despite chairman Sir Anthony Bamford's opposition to manufacturing in the Euro zone.'