Recycling firm goes continental

Metal-recycling business Easco has new French owners after being snapped up in a multi-million-pound deal.

Metal-recycling business Easco has new French owners after being snapped up in a multi-million-pound deal.

Waste management company Sita - part of large French industrial and services group Suez - has bought Easco for an undisclosed sum, with the deal thought to be one of the largest in Norfolk for some time.

Easco, which began life in Watton in 1984 before moving to Lenwade in 1995, employs about 300 people and has 13 recycling sites in the UK.

The business, which until now was part of the Serruys family's SPC empire, has more than doubled its turnover in the past three years to about £90m, and last year handled 512,000 tonnes of ferrous and non-ferrous metals. It employs about 90 people in Norfolk and its regional operations also include sites in Holbeach and Cambridge.

Sita chief executive Pers-Anders Hjort said Easco would see few changes to its operations - a message echoed by Richard Cubitt of SPC, who said it would be business as usual for Easco's staff and customers.

“It will be run as a standalone business. Sita will continue to operate it in the same way and will use it as a springboard for expansion in the sector,” said Mr Cubitt, who was a director of Easco until it was sold.

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Mr Hjort said he expected the UK would eventually follow the European trend with the “waste industry becoming more active in scrap metal and scrap metal firms becoming more active in the waste industry”.

He added: “Easco has a good working relationship with its customers and clients and we hope to reinforce this and expand the business.”

Easco exports more than 50pc of its metals to Europe, the Indian sub-continent and the Far East. SPC's decision to sell the business stemmed from a buoyant recycling market, generated by high demand for steel and other metals in India and the Far East.

But although SPC spent some months looking for prospective bidders, both nationally and internationally, the entire sale process was completed within about 72 hours, with Sita keen to conclude the deal as quickly as possible.

Norwich law firm Mills & Reeve was involved with the sale. Corporate partner James Hunter - who made up the Mills & Reeve team with real estate partner Caroline Dean - said: “This is a good example of a business that was started not that long ago in Norfolk becoming a regional business, then a national business and now being bought by an international company.

“It's a great advert for entrepreneurism in Norfolk and it shows that a lot of hard work pays off.”

SPC is run by Andre Serruys, son of the late Harry Serruys, and its remaining interests include the ownership of Lakenham Sports and Leisure Centre and the Oasis Sports and Leisure Club, both in Norwich.

Mr Serruys paid tribute to the advisers who worked on the deal.

“This was a complex transaction and the organisational effectiveness and hard work of the Mills & Reeve team was a key part of getting it across the line on budget within a very tight timeframe,” he said.

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