iRobot sweeps up its distributor

The makers of the robot vacuum cleaner which is famous for people sitting their cats and children on and filming it for cat1YouTube has just closed a deal to acquire its European distributor, Robopolis.

The Roomba maker iRobot is believed to have paid about $141 million in cash for Robopolis.

Robopolis acts as iRobot’s key distributor across seven European markets, with the distributor saying that the acquisition “will allow iRobot to create a powerful organisation in Europe, helping it get closer to retail partners and consumers, maintain its leadership position and accelerate the growth of its business in Europe”.

iRobot has bought its distributor before. Last year it acquired its Japanese distributor – SODC. It means that the outfit will have greater control over its distribution network and continued growth  “through a consistent approach to all market activities including sales, marketing, branding, channel relationships and customer service”.

Colin Angle, iRobot chairmen and CEO said: “At this stage in the Western European market evolution, and the growth opportunity it presents, we feel a more direct go-to-market strategy is necessary to continue driving adoption of robots for the home. The Robopolis team has been instrumental in establishing iRobot as the leading consumer robotics brand in Western Europe. We look forward to them formally joining iRobot and working together to ensure continued growth.”

Robopolis has been iRobot’s exclusive distributor in Europe since 2006, with the distributor making up nearly half of iRobot’s EMEA revenue for 2016. The region is “key” for the vendor as it represented around a quarter of the company’s 2016 total revenue.

iRobot has confirmed that the distributor will be absorbed into the vendor’s EMEA operations, though Robopolis’ Lyon office will remain open, a spokesperson has stated. “No relocations are planned. All office locations will remain open.”

Robopolis’ management team will join iRobot, with the combined operations being spearheaded by iRobot VP and general manager overseas Jean-Jacques Blanc, who reports to iRobot’s COO, Christian Cerda.