North East Exporter of the Year A-Belco Group makes key acquisition

A-Belco Group has acquired Opsol, one of its main suppliers, in move which opens doors to new markets for both firms

Malcolm Humble, Managing Director of OPSOL UK Ltd and Brian Trench, CEO of the A-Belco Group
Malcolm Humble, Managing Director of OPSOL UK Ltd and Brian Trench, CEO of the A-Belco Group

The leading light from the North East Exporters Awards has strengthened its growth plan by acquiring one of its prominent suppliers.

Ashington-based A-Belco Group – overall winner at last month’s Journal-backed awards, has announced the acquisition of Opsol UK, the world-class electronics design and manufacturing business, for an undisclosed sum.

In a classic example of vertical integration, the £22m turnover A-Belco Group has strengthened its supply chain with the acquisition of the £3.2m annual turnover Opsol, a move which will open up new markets for both Northumberland firms.

150-strong A-Belco manufactures lights, which come under the firm’s Hadar Lighting brand, created specifically for hazardous areas which have a high risk of ignition, such as oil rigs and underground mines, and use less energy than traditional lighting.

Opsol, meanwhile, was established 12 years ago in Cramlington by Malcolm Humble, to design and manufacture a complete range of circuit boards for blue chip clients across a range of market sectors.

The firm manufactures for markets including rail and highway signage, education, security, medical and heating and last year made its own acquisition, when the firm bought the rights to make the MP3 teaching aid StoryPhone.

The firm had previously been making the product on behalf of Hartlepool-headquartered Ameeca but voluntary liquidators were appointed when Ameeca fell into financial difficulties. No longer manufacturing the Storyphone could ultimately have impacted on Opsol’s own future, prompting Humble to take on the manufacturing rights.

Both Opsol and A-Belco agreed that the acquisition not only safeguards all existing jobs within the South East Northumberland area, but also enhances prospects for future growth in employment within the expanded group.

Brian Trench, chief executive of the A-Belco Group, said: “We have dealt with Malcolm and the Opsol team for many years and the company is a perfect fit for ourselves to boost the design and manufacture of our hazardous area lighting, including the very latest generation of LED products.

“However, it is not only their design capability that is attractive to the group, but also their ability to supply components into numerous sectors where we see potential markets for the group.

“In addition, of course, it secures our supply chain and allows us to manage design and manufacture from concept to final production.”

Malcolm Humble added: “Opsol will now have the security of being part of the A-Belco Group with its global presence and distribution network which will enable us to access completely new markets and new sectors. Joining the group at this exciting time in their growth and development therefore makes a great deal of sense for both parties and we’re all looking forward to working closely together.”

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