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Of Thales, Cobham, GKN, Siemens and Jaguar Land Rover By Howard Wheeldon, FRAeS, Wheeldon Strategic Advisory Ltd.

The five companies above have at least one thing in common – they are all very important manufacturing and engineering technology companies that are either domiciled here in the UK or that have significant operations here. Importantly, each of the above five companies has a superb record of investing in their own future, in thinking long as opposed to short term, in recognising the need to invest in research and development technology and skills, in constantly attempting to raise efficiency in order to better compete and also, investing in superb facilities such as those that were formally opened by the Prime Minister for Thales at Green Park, Reading earlier this week.

Thales Further Invests In UK


Earlier this week, Prime Minister, Theresa May opened a very important £23 million investment that build on the long term commitment that Thales is committed to in the UK. Hosted by Victor Chavez, Chief Executive of Thales in the UK and Pierre Eric Pommellet, Chief Operating Officer of Thales Group, the visitors were taken on a tour of the research and technology centre.

I will not attempt to re-invent the wheel here and far better that for reference purposes and to demonstrate the importance of what this new centre of excellence creates and how it further binds the partnership with the UK will provide that I include part of the press release put out by the company earlier this week.

Thales is of course a company that is highly involved in the Aerospace, Defence, Ground Transportation, Security and Space arena and has approximately 64,000 employees worldwide working in 56 countries. Full year results for Thales are due on March 6th.

During her visit Mrs May was shown a number of key projects for Thales here in the UK including the European Aviation Network, which will provide 4G connectivity on flights across Europe and some of the lifesaving capabilities developed for our armed forces.

There was also an opportunity to meet a number of the 350 graduates and apprentices Thales employs in the UK. To hear about how the company participates in activities to promote STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) to address the UK’s engineering shortage and increase diversity.

The opening of the state of the art facility in Green Park, Reading, reaffirms Thales as a major contributor to the UK economy. The new site is bringing 500 highly skilled jobs to the area – including 300 specialised engineers – with capacity to accommodate a further 100 jobs as Thales grows in the region. This is a significant part of Thales’s overall contribution to UK prosperity, employing 6,500 people with annual revenues of £1.3bn.

The new site promotes Thales’s emphasis on fostering innovation, being one of the company’s five global centres specifically designed to focus on research and technology –spending around £70m annually in the UK on research and technology. Further to this, the site will serve as Thales in the UK’s centre of excellence for secure radio communications, network and infrastructure systems and cyber-security consultancy.

Victor Chavez said: “The move to Green Park represents a strategic step forward for Thales, bringing together some of our key businesses with our Research team to ensure we remain on the cutting edge of customer-focused, technology and business model innovation.

“This new world-class workspace sets the benchmark for future working environments across Thales in the UK; designed to enable collaboration with customers, partners and suppliers as well as supporting our move to Smart Working.

Cobham Back With Us!



It was very pleasing to see that despite the probability of only being around half way through the recovery process that Cobham was able to announce profits that beat ‘city’ expectations. It has been a very busy year for CEO David Lockwood and his team and they have not only sliced through costs in an attempt to raise efficiency throughout the company but they have also agreed a sale of the troublesome wireless and aircraft that had been acquired with the Aeroflex division by Mr. Lockwood’s predecessor.

There is, as David Lockwood said this week, “a lot more work to do” but having built a new teams containing some very interesting individuals. But having ridden out the storm successfully and significantly reduced net debt, Cobham looks set fair for a period of stability and growth.

Siemens Ready To Further Invest

The Munich based company Siemens, one of the giants of the electronics and communications not to mention rail and power has announced today that having taken a lease on some land that it is planning to build a £200 million rail factory in Goole that would create 700 jobs – should it win further orders from the UK rails transport industry.

Siemens which back in the 1990’s had acquired a number of British based power engineering companies such as switchgear company Reyrolle and the power station turbine company Parsons can be described as yet another company with a long tradition of investing and being committed to the UK. Worthy of mention too is that back in December 2016 Siemens opened a £310 million wind turbine blade manufacturing facility in Hull.

GKN Talks With Dana Corporation



GKN which is facing an opportunistic bid from Melrose announced today that it was in talks with the US based Dana Corporation over a [possible combination of their large automotive component interests. These talks could be very interesting and while I haven’t got time this morning to search back through my records, this is not the first time over the past thirty years that GKN has talked with Dana Corporation.

Jaguar Land Rover – First All-Electric Car Launched

Luxury carmaker Jaguar has revealed the production version of its first all-electric SUV. The I-Pace can apparently reach 60 miles per hour and has a range of almost 300 miles on a fully charged battery. While the I-Pace has been designed in the UK it will apparently be built in Austria. For the car buffs the car which will go on sale with a price tag of £63,495 and can charge up to 85% of its battery in a mere 85 minutes looks to be an excellent vehicle. No doubt GKN which has invested significant sums in the next generation of electric vehicles will have an involvement on I-Pace too! I wish JLR and GKN well.

Have a nice weekend

CHW (London – 2nd March 2018)

Howard Wheeldon FRAeS

Wheeldon Strategic Advisory Ltd,

M: +44 7710 779785

Skype: chwheeldon


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