Chinese company takes over British barbecue firm Outback

UK barbecue brand Outback is predicting "a bright future" after a takeover by China-based TPA, announcing a new distribution agreement with partners Unipart Leisure and Marine, and a year-on-year sales increase of 18 per cent for 2010.

The family-owned Outback business started in 1979 and was run from its Maidstone, Kent, base by founder Eric Hopper's daughter Julie Channer, who sold her remaining shares after a financial deal was offered by long-standing manufacturer and majority shareholder TPA Metals and Machinery (Shenzhen).

Outback UK chief executive Mark Osborne said:

"Julie and her co-directors decided the time was right to sell the business after many years as establishing it as a first-choice brand among consumers buying from garden centres, major DIY outlets and supermarkets. It's all change for 2011, with new offices, new distribution and new products.

"TPA, which has a leading worldwide reputation and market for its barbeques, key gas and valve regulators, cylinders, heaters and camper appliances, is a natural partner to ensure a bright future for the Outback brand.

"With sales increasing, and a greater number of consumers seeing the lifestyle and household economy benefits of lighting-up an Outback barbeque, we plan to add even more marketing trade value to the brand in the year ahead".

TPA, with 1,200 employees and an $80 million turnover, is recognized as a leading global manufacturer in the liquid petroleum gas (LPG) industry for domestic and commercial appliances, counting among its customers Calor, Shell and BP.

"We have had a successful and long-standing relationship in working alongside Outback from original design to final barbeque shipment, and look forward to developing a business that has a proven track record for growth among UK customers", said TPA chief executive Victor Lin.

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