Increased demand is a boost for Tanfield

AERIAL lift maker Tanfield says the company is “well positioned” for expansion and a return to profitability on the back of revived demand from customers.

Tanfield Chief executive Darren Kell

AERIAL lift maker Tanfield says the company is “well positioned” for expansion and a return to profitability on the back of revived demand from customers.

The Washington company, which retains a stake of almost a quarter in the electric vehicle business it sold to its US associate company last year, said that the worldwide order book for its Snorkel-branded cherry pickers shot up by almost 300% in the year to the end of December. It now has £30.5m of work in the pipeline, compared to £7.7m in December 2010.

Tanfield reported an 11% increase in revenues to £48.3m from £43.5m but it is still making an operating loss of £14.99m, down from £15.83m in 2010.

Tanfield chairman, Jon Pither, said: “Demand for aerial lifts began to return in key markets during 2011 and grew as the year progressed, clearly demonstrated by the order book we brought into 2012.

“Bottlenecks within the supply chain slowed our rate of growth, but Tanfield still made good progress towards its near-term break even target.”

The business recently raised £12m from a share placing, which it is using as working capital to deal with the supply chain issues.

Chief executive Darren Kell said: “This influx of working capital allows the company to place larger orders with its principal suppliers, make investments in strategic supply channels and, where necessary, offer incentives to prioritise supply chain commitments from key supply chain partners.

“We begin 2012 with an extremely healthy order book and a clear strategy to realise this as sales. Despite the ongoing economic uncertainty in some key markets, we believe that replacement of aged equipment alone will deliver growth this year.”

The cherry picker market worldwide is returning to growth after the recession and Tanfield said last month that it is recruiting around 130 staff – around 50 to add to the 150 employed at its Washington headquarters plus 70 more in the US, where it has 180 manufacturing staff in Kansas.

Around 95% of Tanfield’s goods are exported and, last year, the business appointed new distributors in China, the Czech Republic, Romania and Turkey.

Kell said: “We continued to execute our strategy of enhancing the Snorkel product portfolio, launching a new range of boom lifts that share a common chassis. We have appointed a dedicated team to target Latin America – which continues to experience strong growth in the adoption of aerial work platforms – and strengthened our sales team in North America.”

Broker WH Ireland said: “Although global economic uncertainty persists, Snorkel’s markets continue to demonstrate robust and material increases in demand for replacement aerial access equipment.

“Our model, therefore, assumes rapid revenue expansion, taking Tanfield through break even and to profitability in the second half of FY 2012.”


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