3M splits from biggest distributor

3M’s Purification division has ended its distribution contract with Aqua Cure, its largest distributor of commercial water filtration products in the UK.

The company confirmed the termination of the relationship in a notice informing customers of the update to its supply chain this afternoon.

3M said it will no longer supply its water filtration product range to Southport-based Aqua Cure directly.

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It added that to ensure continued supply, customers currently buying 3M products from the distributor are asked to make contact with 3M or its approved network of distributors serving the foodservice industry.

3M also has UK distribution agreements with London-based Abbeychart, Aldershot-based Allpure Filters and Middlesex-based Davanwood, which trades as Omniwash.

In the statement, Andrew Whitehouse, sales and marketing manager of 3M’s Purification division, said: “We would expect Aqua Cure’s levels of 3M stock to get very low towards the end of July or early August. We are suggesting that any customers currently buying 3M water filter products from them, and wishing to maintain their supply, make contact as early as possible.”

Whitehouse told Catering Insight this afternoon that while 3M was likely to seek a replacement for Aqua Cure, it has no intention of rushing into any decisions at the moment.

However, he admitted that as its largest distributor partner, the termination of the relationship would leave a “big hole” in its distribution coverage.

When asked why the relationship had broken down, Whitehouse said that Aqua Cure also has distributorship of what 3M considers to be its major global competitor and it therefore felt the situation “created opportunities for conflict”.

He added: “I don’t think the reason why we terminated the distribution agreement is critical. The reason we wanted to put this notification out is that there are obviously some customers who are buying through Aqua Cure who are not aware that we no longer supply them. We are just really trying to get a message to those customers that if they were to want to continue to buy 3M products then they need to consider alternative sources.”

Aqua Cure is one of the most established water treatment suppliers in the vending and foodservice market. On its website it describes itself as Europe’s largest manufacturer of in-line filters and master distributor for many other major filter manufacturers.

It carries products from brands such as Hydro+, Everpure, Doulton and Carbon X.

A spokesperson for Aqua Cure said: "Aqua Cure is proud to have had a successful trading relationship with 3M (previously Cuno) over the past 10 years. Aqua Cure continues to strive towards its key objective of offering its customers choice and value, as the ‘one stop shop’ for all their water filtration requirements on a next day service.

"With a comprehensive and growing range of alternative products already available, Aqua Cure remains well placed to serve water filtration requirements for all applications and market sectors. Any customers who would like further information on the range of products available should contact Aqua Cure directly."

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