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Schneider sells Eurotherm controls business to Watlow

09 June, 2022

Schneider Electric is selling its UK-headquartered Eurotherm business to Watlow, the US designer and manufacturer of industrial thermal systems, for an undisclosed sum.

Eurotherm supplies temperature, power, and process control, measurement and data management equipment, systems, software and services to global markets. Its headquarters are in Worthing, UK and it has manufacturing operations in Lędziny, Poland. It employs around 650 people worldwide.

Watlow is a global manufacturer of thermal products and systems that employs more than 4,200 people in 13 manufacturing facilities and five technology and development centres in the US, Mexico, Europe and Asia. It holds more than 1,100 patents.

“Combining Eurotherm’s complementary controls technologies with Watlow’s focus on thermal systems, our shared engineer-to-engineer sales models and our focus on common markets will allow Watlow and Eurotherm to better serve all of our respective customers,” says Watlow's CEO, Rob Gilmore. “We are impressed with Eurotherm’s heritage in the controls industry and strong reputation for innovation and quality, so we are looking forward to welcoming the Eurotherm team to Watlow.

“Watlow is investing aggressively right now, including development of our operations in Europe and Asia to ensure we can support and respond to our customers wherever they need us,” he adds. “This acquisition will help us expand our presence in Europe and extend our electronics and controls capabilities globally.”

“We are very pleased to be joining the Watlow team,” says Eurotherm’s managing director, Chris Ashworth. “Watlow is a known leader in the industry, and I believe that combining our strengths will open new opportunities and create value for our customers.”

Eurotherm was founded in Worthing in 1965 and soon launched the world’s first solid-state controller. In 1970, it set up several independent companies including Chessell to manufacture data recorders, and Turnbull Control Systems (TCS) to produce process control systems. In 1974, it established Shackleton Systems Drives (SSD) – at the time, the UK’s biggest manufacturer of variable-speed drives and controls. In 1991, it became Eurotherm Drives.

Eurotherm’s technological milestones include solid-state relays in 1981, distributed control systems in 1985, chart recorders, and the first microprocessor-based power controllers in 1989.

One of Eurotherm’s best-known product lines are its paperless recorders

In 1978, Eurotherm’s holding company went public and by 1989, Eurotherm International controlled a network of subsidiaries around the world. By the late 1990s, Eurotherm Controls, Eurotherm Recorders (previously Chessell) and Eurotherm Process Automation (previously TCS ), amalgamated to form Eurotherm Limited.

In 1998, Eurotherm was acquired by Siebe plc – later to become Invensys. In 2002, the troubled Invensys sold Eurotherm Drives to a management team for $145m and its Rexnord power transmission businesses to the US-based equity firm, the Carlyle Group for $880m, together raising more than $1bn to help cut its debt. In 2004, Eurotherm Drives returned to its roots and renamed itself SSD Drives. The following year the business was sold to Parker Hannifin.

In 2000, there had been rumours that Invensys was going to buy the French equipment group Schneider Electric, but in the end it was Schneider that bought Invensys – including the Eurotherm business – in 2014. Now, Schneider is selling the controls activities to Watlow.

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