This happened just before Christmas, and what with the December issue going to press, and Christmas festivities, was forgotten about (until recently reminded). Boye is a substantial company with a workforce of over 250 and a turnover of 100 million, Nexter is the French armaments giant (manufacturer of the French Main Battle Tank, amongst other things) that owns decon, filtration and respirator manufacturer NBC Sys (NB. NBC Sys have a range of other products, notably detection, and these three are offered as our opinion of what their major product lines are - more information here ). As the press release states this is Nexter’s attempt to combine both clothing and respiratory PPE into one company.

This will be an interesting experiment as the vast majority of the two companies competitors, Avon and Scott for NBC Sys, and Bluecher and Seyntex (since the demise of Remploy) for Paul Boye, are single sector PPE providers - either clothing or respirators. While Boye and NBC Sys have tended to both be strong in similar markets (thanks to a highly effective sales and marketing machine - a push that is supported by both commercial and governmental partners), it will have to be seen whether combining the two manages to be a ‘force multiplier.’ Many customers plan the purchase of their dermal and respiratory protection separately, and like the freedom of picking and choosing. If Boye suits are optimised for NBC Sys masks (since the hood - respirator seal is so important) or vice versa, then it may aggravate, as much as attract, customers. It is also likely to drive more consolidation in the PPE market (informal, if not formal), since previously there might have been interaction between competitors of one system or the other, now vested interests in clothing will influence the choice of mask, for example.

The big question is where next? If Nexter is really interested in building a portfolio of CBRN companies what would the next acquisition be? Personally I would have thought COLPRO giant Utilis would make sense. This would combine their Colpro tents with NBC Sys filtration systems and MOST importantly would bring US market success - since Utilis has been far more successful in US markets than both Boye and NBC Sys. The latter comment could also be said of Proengin, with their chemical and biological sensors. It will be interesting to see whether Nexter has the appetite to build a CBRN mega-company, other Prime Contractor’s have looked at this previously, Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman for example, but generally the finances don’t stack up - there is just not that much CBRN money to keep expanding.

Both companies plan to sign an agreement early this year, it will be interesting to see what comes next…

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