A Teesside firm that manufactures graphene says it is well placed to play a leading role in meeting the “global appetite” for the so-called ‘wonder material’.
Applied Graphene Materials plc, which is based in Redcar, raised £11m when it floated on the stock market in late 2013, and has since identified a wide range of potential markets for its product, a crystalline form of carbon that can be used in everything from tennis rackets to computers.
In its first year, the firm posted an annual turnover of just £4,000 and losses of more than £2m, but its directors spoke confidently at the time about the business’ potential.
Since then, according to a trading update published ahead of its interim results for the first half of the current financial year, performance has been in line with expectations, with net cash of approximately £6.6m at the period end, January 31.
Operational priorities, the firm said, had been customer sampling, developing customer relationships, performance data generation and ongoing enhancements to the manufacturing and dispersion processes.
“The board is pleased with the progress achieved in these areas and in particular the pace of progress since the announcement of the full year results,” the update said.
Currently, around 90% of AGM’s ongoing engagements are with its three core target markets of advanced composites, coatings and functional fluids, encompassing global operators in these markets.
The update said the group had taken encouragement from early performance test data and had enjoyed a record month in November, 2014, when it came to providing samples to customers.
The update continued: “During the period, the group commenced preliminary work on the front end engineering design of a larger scale mk4 production asset and this design work will continue in the second half of the financial year.
“This investment is in addition to that already made in the group’s in-house engineering expertise which to date has been focused on developing our existing proprietary production equipment.
“Whilst the cost of this design work is modest in the context of the likely overall cost of the construction of a larger production asset, this investment signifies the group’s intention to seek to put in place capacity in advance of anticipated growth in demand to secure the group’s long term position in this exciting market opportunity.”
During the period, AGM gradually increased the run rates of its production assets, providing evidence of the consistency and quality of production at higher volumes.
This activity will continue in the second half of the financial year as ongoing enhancements continue to be made to the group’s manufacturing and dispersion processes.
During the period, the group also invested in its senior management team.
The update said: “The group recently announced two new senior management appointments, being Nigel Blatherwick as commercial director and Dr Adrian Potts as vice president (business development) for North America.
“Both have extensive experience of business development in the speciality materials sector and will be invaluable to the Group as it extends its commercial partnerships and capitalises on its international profile.
“Nigel will lead the group’s commercial activities and Adrian, who is based in Oklahoma, will spearhead growth into the North American markets where considerable interest is anticipated.”
AGM said its priorities for second half of the year include scaling production through demonstrating running at higher production rates, providing further samples to customers; and supporting “in depth, high quality customer relationships”.
The company’s interim results will be announced on Wednesday, March 25, 2015.