Universe, the retail and loyalty systems company, whose principal trading subsidiary is HTEC, has acquired AIB Services Limited

and WSF Services Ltd, to strengthen its recently formed car wash and valeting services subsidiary, Jet Set Wash Services Ltd which trades as Jet Set. AIB is a family-owned business based in Bedford and has manufactured and installed petrol forecourt car wash, vacuum and air equipment for over 30 years. AIB has a national service team, employing 19 people. It produces and installs a range of car wash, jet wash vacuum and valeting systems.

Universe will acquire the stock and certain assets of AIB, for a maximum cash consideration of £584,000 of which £434,000 will be paid on completion with a further performance related payment of up to £150,000 over the following three year period.

WSF is an established vehicle cleaning equipment provider and will extend Universe’s jet wash and valeting services into the Scottish market. The acquisition of WSF is expected to complete before the end of February.

These acquisitions have been complemented by the award of a new contract with the Co-Operative Group to install air and vacuum dispensing equipment on all of its 165 sites, with a total installation of over 330 units. The contract is on a shared revenue basis over the life of the equipment.

Paul Cooper, CEO of Universe (pictured at a recent company hospitality day)commented: “The acquisition of AIB together with WSF will give us an excellent platform from which to build the new valeting business line. Jet Set will operate from a modern 22,000 square foot factory in Bedford formally occupied by AIB and will provide the manufacturing and service capability for the new business. WSF gives us immediate access to the valeting market in Scotland, and a strong northern service base. More than 20 staff will transfer to Jet Set to create a significant operating subsidiary.”

“We are also delighted with the new agreement with the Co-Op, which represents further traction with our growing customer base. We look forward to working with them as we continue to drive the business forward.”

Meanwhile HTEC has won a contract with Murco contract for the installation of its HydraPOS software into Murco’s Costcutter branded stores. The contract value is expected to be in excess of £500,000 during 2008. Murco currently operates over 160 sites in the UK which will now be able to carry out on-line credit card transactions using Murco’s own linked network.

Jeremy Clarke, Murco’s marketing director said: “This new solution has given Murco a very stable platform enabling us to take our business forward.”

Paul Cooper, CEO of Universe, commented: “This new contract, with a company of Murco’s stature, emphasises HTEC’s position as a leading supplier of retail and loyalty systems to the petrol forecourt industry, where modern, robust and common platforms are required, supported by on-line managed service backup. We are delighted with the progress HTEC is making in becoming the number one provider of a total managed service retail solution for these markets.”