A North Tyneside battery component maker which exports its niche products around the globe has grown operating profit by 4.3% to £7.46m during a difficult trading period.
Killingworth-based Entek International, which has a sister plant in Oregon, US, centres its operation on the manufacture of membranes called separators which are installed in car batteries to separate the positive and negative plates.
Over time, the firm has diversified into making similar products for batteries in other electronic equipment, but it said its prime focus is to take advantage of new innovations in automotive power.
Latest accounts for 2014 show turnover dipped 3%, from £40.67m to £39.42m, but operating profit grew by £309,000 in the same period. Pre-tax profit came in at £8.11m, a lift of 1.7% on the comparable period’s £7.98m.
Directors at the firm, which loaned £7.4m to group undertakings during the year, said: “2014 was a difficult trading year, however the directors consider operating profits of £7.5m and cash generation from operations of £10.7m to be acceptable results under the circumstances, and a level of profitability that most manufacturing businesses would be very pleased with indeed.
“Operating profit at 19% of sales value rose from that achieved in 2013, 18%, in a difficult trading climate.”
The business, which employs 128 people in North Tyneside, has achieved rapid growth since it was established as a lead-acid battery separator company by founders James Young and Pete Johnson in Lebanon, Oregon in 1984.
Commercial production started five years later and with manufacturing plants in the North East and US, where 100% of products are exported worldwide from its production lines, to countries including China, India, Brazil, Russia, Poland, Germany and Spain.
The report accompanying the accounts said: “Entek International is a world leader in the extrusion and extraction of highly-filled microporous polyethylene separators used in the manufacture of automotive lead-batteries.
“Entek’s commitment to manufacturing excellence and superior customer service has enabled the company to distinguish itself from it competition and forge strategic alliances with the world’s leading automotive battery manufacturers.
“Entek is poised to take advantage of the growth opportunities presented by the continuing evolution of automotive power systems technology.
“The automotive lead acid battery industry is highly specialised and we generally compete with only a few other companies.
“Most of our products require years of cooperative development with customers, extensive testing and approval prior to the introduction of the customers’ products to the market.”