MB Aerospace investment plans set to take off

Craig Gallagher revealed plans to increase investment in MB plants, including those in Poland and the US. Picture: Chris James
Craig Gallagher revealed plans to increase investment in MB plants, including those in Poland and the US. Picture: Chris James
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Engineering group MB Aerospace is pushing the button on major investment to ramp up capacity at key sites after annual revenues surged through the $200 million (£130m) mark.

The Motherwell-based firm, which manufactures and repairs aero-engine components for customers including General Electric, Pratt & Whitney and Rolls-Royce, said it was likely to continue with selective acquisitions, adding to the five undertaken in the last four years. It will also maintain the pace of organic growth at its existing manufacturing hubs.

Company chief executive Craig Gallagher pointed to a strong backlog of work across commercial, military and industrial gas turbine markets, including recent contract wins on “next-generation” aerospace platforms.

Over the past 24 months, the group’s sites in Rzeszow in Poland and Connecticut in the US have seen significant investment, including a dozen new machining centres at the Polish facility. Both locations are gearing up for further expansion over the next 12-18 months.

Gallagher, who led an original management buyout of MB Aerospace from engineering stalwart Motherwell Bridge in 2007 and a subsequent secondary buyout in 2012, said revenues had risen by about 10 per cent in the past year to some $206m. He did not disclose any profit figures. About 70 per cent of MB’s business is centred on the US.

“We have acquired businesses and they have all settled well and grown,” said Gallagher. “The industry has a lot of potential but there is also a lot of competition.

“There are more new engines coming through from Asia, Latin America and eastern Europe. We support something like 67 different aero engine platforms which is how we manage risk and want to overlay on top of that some of these new engines that we are servicing – gaining new technologies and capacity to cope.

“We have a good growth trajectory though there is quite a bit of cost pressure. We are also increasing the number of engineers which will show up in results from 2017 onwards.”

The headcount grew to approach 1,000 in the past 12 months, with a further increase in staff numbers on the cards. The firm has some 150 staff in the UK, including around 120 at its historic headquarters in Motherwell.

Meanwhile MB said it had selected a technology partner and was working to develop lower-cost laser welding techniques.

The figures and strategy update come as the group prepares for this year’s international air show in Paris – the world’s largest aerospace trade show – which takes place next week. The Scots firm is promising to have a “significant presence” at the show.