NP AEROSPACE – PIONEERING ADVANCED ARMOUR SOLUTIONS
By Julian Nettlefold
BATTLESPACE MEETS ROGER Medwell, Chairman, CEO and Managing Director of NP Aerospace at the Company’s main Coventry Plant.
Tucked away on a street in the centre of Coventry, is a world-beating advanced composite armour facility – NP Aerospace Ltd.
The Editor first became aware of NP Aerospace in 1991 when working for Courtaulds Military Paints Division. At that time its world-beating SNATCH 1 Land Rover was just under consideration by the British Army and NP was the National Plastics Division of Courtaulds Plc. The Company reached its 80th Birthday in 2006.
The Company has undergone a number of iterations since that time from a subsidiary of Courtaulds thru an MBO funded by Carlyle in 2005 with the management owning 10.2% to a subsidiary of Morgan Crucible in 2007 with the management still owning 40% of the Company. NP Aerospace is now an ISO 9001:2000 Approved Company. NP has a Main Board consisting of Roger Medwell (who joined in 1960) Chairman, CEO and Managing Director, Don Clas and Andrew Riley from Morgan Crucible, Baljit Shergill, Robert Turner, (who joined in 1965), Technical Director, Vaughan Collins, Composites Director and Mike Linton as Company Secretary. Uniquely NP does not have a Sales & Marketing nor an HR Director. The Company turned over £72 million in 2008 and will reach a remarkable £200 million this year having forecast £50 million!
In January the FT reported that NP was sitting on a record order book. The company has seen business soar on the back of the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. It has delivered more than 100 Mastiff armoured vehicles as well as Osprey body armour and helmets to Britain’s troops since 2006. The order book already stands at £160m – compared with last year’s total of £52m. Most of this increase is due to orders from the UK Ministry of Defence, the company’s largest single customer.
In January Morgan Crucible increased its stake in NP Aerospace by 11% to 60% for £12.2m. The purchase of the 11% tranche was accelerated from the initial timetable.
“I am delighted that we have accelerated the programme of purchasing the outstanding equity of NP Aerospace,” Morgan Crucible chief executive Mark Robertshaw said. “Since our initial investment in August 2007 the relationship between Morgan Crucible and NP Aerospace has strengthened and both parties have capitalised on the many benefits that we bring to each other.”
“The name over the door may have changed many times over the years but the technical excellence of our pioneering heritage remains the hallmark of our unique team today. Just as the innovative thinking that made the company a success at its roots, our dedication to the development of newer, better materials, products and production methods drives us to this very day.” Roger Medwell said.
“The technology we use today has its roots in the advanced materials used by Courtaulds to improve its spinning machine products. We handle most of our work in-house to ensure quality and delivery. Coventry is the home of the light military vehicle having produced Daimler Scout cars, Pigs and of course the Alvis CVR(T) range. Thus we have a huge pool of skilled labour, particularly in these hard times given the Peugeot and Jaguar factory closures. This pool has enabled us to be very flexible to win MoD bids at very competitive prices. We also have huge Company loyalty with very few people leaving or being made redundant. NP Aerospace is now one of the largest thermosetting moulding companies in Europe. We manufacture an extensive range of products in engineering thermoset and composite materials for a wide variety of customers in the Defence, Aerospace, Electrical, Automotive and Medical Industries.” Roger Medwell continued.
This was clearly shown in my tour of both plants where Roger greeted every worker by name including an old friend with whom he had joined NP in 1960.