ABF sweet on retail as sugar goes sour

ABFfactory300One of the UK’s  biggest food and beverage sector manufacturers is again being buoyed up by an operation entirely alien to its name and historical roots.
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EEF urges Osborne to tackle energy costs

budgetbox300Manufacturing bosses filed an early salvo across Chancellor George Osborne’s bows this morning, urging him to tackle escalating industrial energy costs during his Budget speech in just less than a month’s time.

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Xeros wants a manufacturer with balls

xerosA company that invented a washing machine that does away with the need for water is reported to be heading for a £100m stock market flotation and is on the lookout for a manufacturer with the balls to make it.

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New manufacturing news website goes live

whimfingAfter over 1000 blogs, the Whats Happening in Manufacturing blog spot has grown up and become the sector’s newest fully functioning 24/7 manufacturing news website.

WHIMFING.com (What’s Happening In Manufacturing) boasts “no frills; just facts”. It’s “where busy people who work in manufacturing go for independent news about what’s happening in their world”.

whimfing.com is run by journalist Ken Hurst FRSA, a former Editorial Director of Works Management and The Manufacturer magazines and award-winning Business Editor and columnist at the Eastern Daily Press. He is now Chairman of the boutique publishing house Startrack Media Ltd.

Take a look at http://www.whimfing.com and send your manufacturing stories to whimfing@gmail.com

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Manufacturing growth fastest for 40 years – CBI

CBIleach300Manufacturing order books remained robust in February and output growth accelerated faster than in almost 40 years, according to the latest CBI Industrial Trends Survey.

Orders from abroad also put in their strongest performance since October 2011, with the automotive sector being the biggest contributor to the hike in exports.

Output grew at one of the strongest rates since survey records began in 1975. Optimism about output prospects also improved, with expectations for output growth over the coming three months at their strongest since September.

CBI Head of Economic Analysis Anna Leach (pictured) said: “The manufacturing sector shows continued signs of improvement with demand high and steady and output growing strongly.

“Growth is increasingly broad-based and firms’ growth expectations are the highest for several months.

“As the UK and global economies continue to strengthen over the coming months, we expect conditions to continue to improve for UK manufacturers and to increasingly feed through to business investment.”

Copyright Ken Hurst 2014

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ACT strikes out Cobra to seize eco parts market

act3Just a year on from its takeover by industrial investors, the Wrexham-based manufacturer Cobra Automotive Engineering is to change its name in a bid to grab £3m of new contracts in automotive, aerospace and new generation low carbon vehicles.

Cobra will now be known as Applied Component Technology (ACT) – a change that it hopes will help it tap into demand for lightweight ‘eco’ parts.

The new corporate identity marks the company’s one-year anniversary following its purchase by investors Pemberton Capital and the appointment of Bob Woods (pictured, right, with colleague Nick English) as managing director.

In that time, ACT said it had re-established its presence as key supplier of interior trim technologies and products to global tier 1s and car markers.

All 75 staff had been retained and, following recent wins to supply a plastic bumper part for a luxury vehicle manufacturer and new low weight load floor, the company says it is confident about creating new jobs in 2014.

“We are really excited about the new brand as it marks the next stage of our development and reflects more closely the services and products we now provide,” explained Woods.

“Over the last twelve months we noticed that the mass reduction technology we’ve developed could be applied to lots of different markets, including aerospace, rail and marine, so felt having ‘automotive’ in our name restricted us somewhat.

“The signage at our factory has been changed and the website is now live. We’ll also be promoting the new brand at a forthcoming SMMT Forum event in March.”

ACT, which boasts £7.5m of sales across eight countries, has also made a number of high profile appointments to bolster its senior management team.

Copyright Ken Hurst 2014

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‘Solid’ year for BAE Systems

typhoonThe British defence contractor BAE Systems said today that it had “delivered a solid performance in 2013, against the background of reduced government spending and challenging market conditions”.

Announcing its financial results for the year, BAE chief executive Ian King said cost controls together with new contract wins in the US, Saudi Arabia and internationally had helped it maintain profit levels.

The current financial year had started with good momentum with a settlement on Salam pricing (whereby a long-negotiated agreement with Saudi Arabia, relating to the supply of Eurofighter Typhoon aircraft – pictured – was reached). US budgets were in place and there was a well-defined UK Maritime sector plan, King added.

He went on, “Budget pressures in some of the Group’s larger markets are expected to prevail but BAE Systems has a broad-based portfolio.” This, he said would “provide a solid basis for growth over the medium term”.

In 2013, sales increased by 2% to £18.2bn with underlying earnings increasing by 3% to £1.9bn.

Copyright Ken Hurst 2014

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