Aerospace firm flies high on the back of sector ‘super-cycle’

Posted on 25 Feb 2015 by Jonny Williamson

One year on from a management buyout, Birmingham-based AE Aerospace is soaring having been successfully turned around into a profitable business which has already made one acquisition and is seeking more.

The new management has already doubled group sales to £3m and is looking to triple revenues this year after investing more than £300,000 in the business with support from Lloyds Bank Commercial Finance.

Investments have included refitting the offices and installing new machinery in a move to boost the firm’s capability, capacity, quality and efficiency.

In November, AE acquired Dudley-based machinist Andover Precision, which specialises in manufacturing components for marine and power generation applications, as well as a small amount of aerospace work.

Andover has also seen early success in its turnaround strategy, with around ten new jobs now set to be created.

Managing director and co-owner of AE Aerospace, Peter Bruch, commented: “Andover’s markets are very stable so the acquisition helps spread our exposure across different sectors.

“We are expecting that part of the business to grow even faster than AE has, [and] we will be looking to make more acquisitions in the West Midlands and are seeking businesses that can further increase our capability.

A320neo_first_flight_take_off_10 (1)
Almost all of AE Aerospace’s output is components for military and passenger aeroplanes such as the Airbus A320.

“Currently we have to outsource certain types of work, like gear cutting, grinding, coating and testing, and we would like to be able to bring that in house.

“We are also hoping to persuade some of our customers that have offshored elements of their supply chain to bring them back to the UK. If we have a long-term agreement we can match the prices charged by the competition in low-cost countries.”

Reshoring production in the West Midlands could generate £1.7bn in GDP for the East Midlands’ economy and create up to 35,000 jobs in the region, according to new research from EY.

Bruch continued that AE, which makes everything from washers, nuts and bolts to gearbox casings costing thousands of pounds, is benefiting from a ‘super cycle’ of growth affecting the entire aviation sector, which he believes could continue for at least ten years, while the firm has also grown market share.

Customers include UTC; Moog; Rolls Royce and Bombardier, with 95% UK sales and 99% of its output is components for military and passenger aeroplanes such as the Boeing 787 and Airbus A320.

Birmingham-based AE was facing closure when it was acquired in January, 2014 by a management team led by turnaround specialist Peter Bruch. Staff numbers have almost doubled since, from 24 to 40.