Engineering firm eyes expansion after top level restructure

Gateshead-based Express Engineering is geared for growth after a deal with a private investor

An engineer at work at Express Engineering in Gateshead
An engineer at work at Express Engineering in Gateshead

Express Engineering is gearing up for further growth following a deal with mid-market private equity investor LDC.

Team Valley-based Express Engineering will accelerate its expansion strategy thanks to the investment by mid-market private equity investor LDC, which has taken a minority equity stake in the business as part of the transaction.

Part of Lloyds Banking Group, LDC backs management teams from UK-based companies seeking between £2m and £100m of equity for management buy-outs, institutional buy-outs or development capital transactions.

Founded 41 years ago, Express Engineering has grown to employ 375 staff, suppling precision engineering services to the aerospace, sub sea oil and gas exploration and production and power generation sectors from its Gateshead facility and a factory in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

The combined group recorded revenues of around £44m, representing an almost three-fold increase in business since 2010, and the global customer base includes a raft of blue firms including Rolls Royce, British Aerospace, Caterpillar, Messier-Bugatti-Dowty, UTC Aerospace, FMC Technologies, Aker Solutions, GE (Vetco), Cameron, Schlumberger, National Oilwell Varco and Weatherford.

A new group structure and a raft of promotions and new appointments will see the business seek to expand in three sectors.

Under the revised structure, operations at Team Valley will be re-branded as Express Engineering Oil and Gas and will focus completely on a sector which has delivered huge growth for the company in recent years.

Aerospace work will be transferred to the Stokesley site, acquired from Burdon last August and will be known as Express Engineering Aerospace. Other operations there will come under the remit of Express Engineering Industrial.

Activities in Brazil, where the group owns Petrotec, will remain unchanged.

Managing director, Nigel Davison has become chief executive officer of a new Express Engineering Group, with finance director Mike Blakey stepping into that role at group level.

Gary Thirlwell, previously commercial director, has become the MD at Express Engineering Oil and Gas and former employee, Neil Ransom, who left 10 years ago to work in the south, returns as commercial director.

The private equity investment agreement, signed last October, saw LDC take a minority stake in Express and was designed to provide capital to make investment for growth, which could not be funded by the company alone.

The transaction also demonstrated LDC’s commitment to the manufacturing and specialist engineering sector.

Nigel Davison: “Over the past five years we have invested significantly in our premises, our equipment and our people, putting us in an excellent position to take advantage of improving markets. But our ambitions were such that we needed a reliable investment partner which understood our business and our markets.

“With its deep-rooted sector expertise, track record and international credentials, LDC is the perfect partner to help deliver our long term growth objectives and that is what this reorganisation is designed to support.”

John Garner, director and head of LDC in Yorkshire and the North East, said: “We are delighted to be supporting a first class business with compelling growth aspirations. Our investment will allow Express to further broaden its proposition and bring much needed capacity into the market.”

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