EXCLUSIVE – SWARCO bringing road marking business to UK

The Austrian traffic technology corporation SWARCO has confirmed that its acquisition of the British road marking company HITEX will lead to the introduction of its lining solutions into the UK.

SWARCO’s initial business in the road sector more than 50 years ago was to provide road marking using  the technique of including glass beads within the paint to vastly improve reflectivity and creating night time visibility of road markings, thus making roads safer.  SWARCO then expanded into other sectors including urban intersection control, parking, VMS and Software as a Service.

However, despite road marking still accounting for around a third of the company’s global turnover, it had never brought the technology to the UK.

Senior Communications and Events Manager Richard Neumann told Highways News, “We were asking ourselves, why are we not present in Europe’s second largest economy with road marking systems?  The reason had been down to pricing. SWARCO, with its glass bead productions in Germany and Austria, was simply not competitive with the price level local UK producers could offer.  And there was not yet the awareness that premium product is more expensive, but also delivers superior performance, especially in view of roads needing to become readable for self-driving cars.

Mr Neumann explained that there had already been loose ties with HITEX in the 2000s with SWARCO supplying drop-on glass beads to them, but SWARCO never managed to increase that business to a greater scale, also due to strong local competitors. However, when in late 2020 the possibility arose to buy the family business this year, SWARCO saw it as a “great chance.”

“We will introduce to the UK market our SWARCO SOLIDPLUS glass beads – these are used in high performance road marking systems delivering very high retro reflectivity, and we also want to push the road markings that remain still visible when it’s raining at night, because that’s a particular challenge requiring special structured road marking systems we have in our portfolio,” he continued.

The acquisition will lead to two-way business opportunities, with SWARCO looking to take HITEX’s British-developed innovations into the European market.  “With the acquisition of HITEX, we get some more specialised products into our portfolio,” Mr Neumann concluded. “HITEX is very strong in surface coatings with high friction properties and decorative surfacing and road repair products.  We will certainly be looking to expand the market for these excellent products.” In addition, HITEX will benefit from the R&D work carried out in SWARCO’s Competence Centre for Glass Technology and Road Marking Systems in Austria.

SWARCO is also currently working on the integration of Dynniq Mobility into its business, after that acquisition at the end of September.

(Picture – SWARCO)


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