A European firm has entered into an agreement to purchase Aqua Products, producer of robotic pool cleaners based in Cedar Grove, N.J.
The deal was finalized in February, with the Sabadell, Spain-based Fluidra agreeing to acquire Aqua Products and sister firm Aquatron, another robotic cleaner company based in Afula Elite, Israel, with a branch in Delray Beach, Fla.
The transaction was valued at $44 million, which represents 4.2 times the 2010 EBITDA, according to Fluidra officials.
Established in 1982, the Aqua Products group does business in 40 countries under its own brand names, as well as private labeling for a number of other companies.
Fluidra is known primarily in the United States as the parent of Astral Pool. Its U.S. headquarters are in Jacksonville, Fla., but globally, it is one of the largest providers of pool equipment, selling products in more than 170 countries. In addition to pool and spa equipment, the firm deals in water conservation and treatment products.
With this latest purchase, Fluidra sees an additional entree into the American market, as well as a diversification in its portfolio. Previously, the group did not manufacture robotic cleaners, but had distributed another brand.
“The integration of Aqua Products in our group opens access to new distribution channels into the residential market and will fill a strategic gap in our offering,” said Eloi Planes, CEO of Fluidra Group.
He added that the acquisition is projected to increase Fluidra’s U.S. sales by 300 percent.
Aqua Products’ management and staff are expected to stay on, and Fluidra doesn’t plan to change the operations or product lines. “The current team has done a great job to achieve leadership in the sector,” Planes said. “The management’s experience in this particular field complements our long-term plans.”
While Fluidra stands to further penetrate the U.S. market, the Aqua Products group expects the new arrangement to help it expand worldwide.
“I think the only thing we can possibly anticipate is that our continued growth might even be more rapid by having this relationship,” said Gil Erlich, vice president of sales and marketing at Aqua Products. “We have a stronger financial backing and, I think, the possibility of future opportunities with expanded product offerings, perhaps outside the robotic cleaner sector.”
Observers have said it may be worth watching to see if Fluidra follows this new acquisition by bringing other products such as pumps into the United States, and whether it can find an opening in a market dominated by a number of long-entrenched players.