Petards back in the black as order book strengthens to £20m

Team Valley-based developers of security equipment for the transport sector saw revenues more than double to £13.5m in 2014

Petards eyeTrain systems are used on Electrostar trains, like this one in use at the Stansted Express
Petards eyeTrain systems are used on Electrostar trains, like this one in use at the Stansted Express

Security and surveillance technology specialists Petards Group plc is back in the black after revenues more than doubled to £13.5m.

The Team Valley-based firm saw pre-tax profit of £620,000 in 2014, up from a £2.38m loss the year before.

A key £4.5m defence contract win to modify electronic countermeasures equipment for Ministry of Defence aircraft and a further £1m to provide similar equipment for the Royal Navy’s Merlin fleet helped to boost the firm’s order book.

AIM-listed Petards said its strategy to target the new build train sector also continued to bear fruit as new business was secured with manufacturers such as Bombardier Transportation and Hitachi Rail Europe.

Petards’ order book continued to build throughout the period and stood at £20m at the beginning of 2015, of which the firm reported more than half is scheduled to be delivered in the current year.

Raschid Abdullah, the firm’s chairman, remained cautiously optimistic about the year ahead, and said he was confident of building on its success.

He said: “I am pleased to say for the year to date the Group has traded in line with expectations and that it remains well placed to add to the achievements of 2014.

“The visibility provided by the Group’s current forward order book and its pipeline of order prospects provides the board with confidence that further progress will be made in 2015.”

He added: “We’ve started the year in a good position. There are challenges but our team has demonstrated its capability to overcome them and we’re confident of building on what we’ve achieved.”

A five-year framework agreement with train manufacturer Siemens’ Mobility Division has yielded two significant contract wins to date worth £3m.

The firm’s directors were confident that UK rail franchise renewals over the coming years would result in new opportunities for Petards.

In an outlook report within the results, Mr Abdullah said: “Investment in new rail rolling stock has continued to benefit from Government initiatives around the world and there is no obvious sign that this is likely to change in the foreseeable future.

“Petards position as a long established specialist ‘value added’ reseller within the UK defence industry is expected to continue to provide a platform to develop this area of the group’s business.”

Revenues for the firm’s key eyeTrain products were higher in the second half of the year when contracts for Bombardier, Hyundai Rotem and Siemens were delivered.

Supply to the emergency services, which makes up a smaller proportion of Petards’ order book, holds export potential, the firm said. Forthcoming overseas marketing activity is planned to exploit this.

During the period its Provida 4000 in-car video evidence and speed enforcement system received a steady flow of orders from UK law enforcement agencies.

It was also noted that over the last 18 months Petards’ Gateshead operation underwent “considerable change” in operating structure and workforce.

Some 35% of staff had moved on or were replaced and others adopted broader roles with more responsibility.

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