AN EAST Lancashire plumbing company has sealed a £2.5million tie-up with one of Europe’s leading energy firms.

The deal will see James Hargreaves Plumbing Merchants offer Austria-based TiSUN products to help householders transfer solar energy into hot water.

It is worth £500,000 to the Burnley firm this year and could be worth £2million in 2011.

Bosses at the East Lancashire business, which has 25 branches and showrooms, have hailed the deal, saying it will secure the company’s future.

And it will also help pay for a brand new showroom showcasing renewable energy products close to James Hargreaves HQ in Parliament Street, Burnley.

Commercial director Bill Davies said: “Renewable energy is so important for the future and while we have been keen to expand into that, TiSUN have been keen to grow their interests in the UK, so the relationship is an ideal fit.

“We are the first of a select number of merchants with whom they are looking to build a link and the accent is very much on solar thermal products which transfer solar energy to the hot water requirements of a household or other premises.

“These are very exciting times for such developments.”

The seeds for the deal were sown when both James Hargreaves and TiSUN, based 50 miles northeast of Innsbruck, exhibited at the Greenbuild Expo in Manchester.

Mr Davies and James Hargreaves’ renewables development manager Ian Barnett then flew to TiSUN HQ to tie up the deal, which is the Austrian firm’s first in Britain.

Geoff Miller, TiSUN’s UK sales director, said: “We are very excited about the relationship with James Hargreaves, a very well-respected merchant with a wide range of outlets.

"What impressed us particularly is the company’s commitment to renewable energy.”

James Hargreaves, founded in 1968, has outlets in Burnley, Blackburn, Clitheroe, Accrington, Nelson and Rawtenstall.