THE future of one of Colchester’s biggest employers has been secured after it was acquired by an international company.

Toothpaste tube manufacturers Betts, which has its headquarters in Colchester, has been bought by Albea, which supplies packaging for make-up, skin care and other toothpaste products across the world.

The firm’s UK base has been in Ipswich Road, where around 180 people are employed since 1953.

General manager Allan Lock said the move would safeguard those employees and could result in expansion, partly because Albea did not previously have a base in the country.

He said: “It’s a perfect match to join the two companies up together.

“There are areas where Albea doesn’t have a presence and Betts does.

“One of those areas is in the UK, where our site in Colchester will become part of Albea and still remain one of the biggest sites within the whole group.”

In March 2008, the company announced plans to sell its Ipswich Road base and move to a smaller home, expected to be in the Colchester area.

Last November, Colchester Council published a brief on how the factory site should be redeveloped, with around 200 homes, shops and businesses proposed.

Mr Lock said the takeover did not affect the proposed move, which was close to being confirmed.

He confirmed one of the sites under consideration was at Cuckoo Farm, near the new A12 junction.

He said: “We’re still working to secure premises in the area, which we’re very close to.

“We’ve got a plan to move off this site over a 12-month period, once notice has been served and hopefully stay in the Colchester area.”

Keith Chapman, chief executive of Betts, said: “This is an exciting and significant step for Betts.

“We join a company with great development opportunities that offer our business the right growth platform, to deliver the best product and service to our customers worldwide.”

Francois Luscan, president and chief executive of Albea, said the acquisition will mean the companies will be able to provide more products.