US giant takes over 126-year-old Borders cleaning product business

Peter Lipke, Ecolab senior vice-president and general manager, institutional division Europe, shakes on the deal with Robin Leith, managing director at Arpal.
Peter Lipke, Ecolab senior vice-president and general manager, institutional division Europe, shakes on the deal with Robin Leith, managing director at Arpal.

The Selkirk-based Arpal Group – which has been manufacturing a wide range of cleaning and disinfection products for 126 years – has been acquired by US giant Ecolab for an undisclosed sum.

The takeover was announced this afternoon (Tuesday) – and includes the RP Adam factory in Selkirk, which employs 85 people, and the UAE part of the business, which is based in Dubai and employs 46 people.

From left: Robin Leith, managing director and Max Adam, sales and marketing director of the Arpal Group; Aaron Gardiner, Ecolab vice-president institutional region north and Peter Lipke, Ecolab senior vice-president and general manager, institutional division Europe.

From left: Robin Leith, managing director and Max Adam, sales and marketing director of the Arpal Group; Aaron Gardiner, Ecolab vice-president institutional region north and Peter Lipke, Ecolab senior vice-president and general manager, institutional division Europe.

Ecolab describes itself as the global leader in water, hygiene and energy technologies and services that protect people and vital resources. It’s 2016 sales totalled $13billion – and it operates in more than 170 countries.

Ecolab’s vice-president for north Europe, Aaron Gardiner, explained why the deal was struck.

He said: “If you look at RP Adam’s reputation, their service ability in the market, and the way they line up relative to Ecolab, we feel it is positioned really nicely for long-term growth in the UK and beyond.”

Asked whether staff are guaranteed to keep their jobs following the takeover, Mr Gardiner said: “We have an intergration team put together, and we don’t know enough yet.

“I’m excited about spending time in Scotland ... I live in the UK ... and we are going to learn. It is business as usual as it stands today.”

Arpal’s sales and marketing director, Max Adam, told us how the staff took the news.

He said: “The staff have been great. Obviously it’s big news.

“We have got some long-standing members of staff in the company, some with two decades service, or more in certain cases.

“It’s been a well-kept secret, so obviously they are surprised at the news.

“I’ve got to take my hat off to Ecolab who have welcomed staff brilliantly this morning and got a happy face.

“Arpal and Ecolab share the same values, we have the same customer-centric attitudes, we have good retention rates, good products and the market is going to benefit.”

Asked what Ecolab will bring to the table for Arpal, Mr Gardiner said: “We are a very large global organisation that really focuses on innovation, making our environments cleaner, safer and healthier.

“And we think the combination of our two companies is going to make for a strong market presence here in the UK.”

While the cost of the takeover has not been disclosed, annual sales for the Arpal Group in the UK and Dubai are approximately $20million.

In a statement issued today, the Selkirk company said: “The shared focus will continue to bring value to end-user customers and distributors through unmatched service levels and technical excellence.

“Other than the change of ownership, Arpal Group will continue to work with suppliers, customers and distributors as it did before the acquisition.”