£54m. buy-out of Pendle manufacturing firm

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Pendle manufacturing firm Weston EU has been sold for £54 million.

The business, which predominantly produces components for the aerospace industry, had been in family ownership since it was established on the banks of the Leeds and Liverpool Canal at Foulridge in 1948.

The new owner, multi-national firm Senior plc, has said it is business as usual for Weston’s staff, with 300 employed at bases in Foulridge and Earby. It also has facilities in Thailand. The management team will remain in their roles.

CEO Richard Sutton said: “Our new ‘home’ with Senior positions us extremely well to take full advantage of the significant growth opportunities we have created.

“Accordingly, we have announced investment in new facilities which will be designed to support our future expansion and co-locate our UK Aero-structures machining, assembly and logistics operations on to a purpose-built site. Myself and the management teams, in the UK and in Thailand, are staying with the business.”

Earlier this year, dozens of jobs were created at the Station Road base in Foulridge and at West Craven Business Park, Earby, to handle extra work created by contracts with Rolls-Royce and Airbus, which are among its biggest customers.

A spokesman for Senior said more than 70% of Weston’s revenue for the first 10 months of 2011 was derived either directly or indirectly from Airbus commercial aircraft platforms.

With the manufacturing giant announcing build-rate increases for all of the aircraft types Weston is involved with, Senior expects the future prospects for the Pendle firm to be highly encouraging.

Unaudited accounts for the 10-month period this year show sales of £45.4m and a pre-tax profit of £5m. Reported accounts for the year to December 2010 saw sales of £42.5m and £4.2m pre-tax profit.

Mark Rollins, Senior Group Chief Executive, said: “I am very pleased to announce the acquisition of Weston and to welcome all of its employees to the Senior Group.

“Weston represents an excellent strategic addition to Senior’s Aerospace Structures Division.

“Weston has a well-established reputation in the aerospace industry and its capabilities, combined with Senior’s wider market access and financial strength, and the current healthy commercial aerospace markets, are expected to further enhance the future growth prospects for the Senior Group.

“We look forward to continuing to invest and grow the business in the area.”

Weston Electrical Units was founded by Richard Sutton, grandfather of the current CEO, and his wife Doris in 1948, when the firm largely undertook work for the Ministry of Defence.

The company focused on airframe components for over 35 years before it expanded into the IT sector in the 1980s. The firm has grown to become one of Pendle’s most successful manufacturers.