Autumn 2019 will see the Group quadruple manufacturing capacity for advanced machines and robots (AMRs), as it completes a £3m move to new headquarters. This establishes a world-class design, development and New Product Introduction facility in the Group’s home town of Blyth, Northumberland. The move is in direct response to significant revenue growth across current customers, as well as increased capacity to meet demand from new customers.
The Group comprises Tharsus Limited (“Tharsus”), a full product design, manufacture and aftermarket servicing company which works with customers to design and build AMRs which deliver strategic commercial and competitive impact for them, through the integration of new technologies. Its sister company Universal Wolf Limited (“Universal Wolf”) is a leader in complex fabrication, providing customers with their specific requirements through a unique combination of organisation, experience, ability and resources.
The 2018 results that have been published recently demonstrate the Group’s’ continued ability to increase revenue above market rate, and to attract new customers.
Group revenue increased by 85% to £51.2m (2017: £27.7m) with Tharsus providing the majority of the increase as its revenue increased by £23.0m. Costs to create additional capacity and elevate executional capabilities continue to increase ahead of revenue growth in order to be capable of absorbing further business growth from an economy seeking productivity gains in many sectors from the deployment of AMRs. This continued investment has impacted the profitability that would have otherwise been achieved during the financial year.
Universal Wolf has benefited from a rebranding and repositioning exercise during the year as its revenue increased by 22.4% and it became established as the new disruptive brand in its sector. The revenue growth is concentrated in the second half of 2018 and so the full year effects of this growth combined with new customer wins in the new financial year means that the outlook for 2019 financial year is very positive. In order to support this growth capital expenditure investment, mainly in plant and machinery, increased to £0.59m (2017: £0.06m). The company is preparing for continued future growth through the acquisition of a second factory, which will almost double its footprint from 35,000 sq ft to 68,000 sq ft.
Group EBITDA of £1.0m was similar to the prior year reflecting the investment decisions made in the year to pursue the growth opportunities. Investments have been made in additional colleagues and infrastructure to ensure that the business continues to manage such growth effectively which has constrained the 2018 EBITDA.
In order to support the Group’s ambitions the leadership team has been added to with Gerard Murray (Chief Financial Officer), John Toal (Business Development Director – Tharsus), Alasdair Waugh (COO – Tharsus) and Patrick MacDonald (Managing Director – Universal Wolf) joining the Group over the last 18 months.
Group headcount has risen from 216 to over 300 colleagues today, with new talent adding experience and capability to every specialist area of the business.
The investment strategy reflects accelerated demand for Tharsus designed and manufactured AMRs, on behalf of its international customers. The impact of increased global competition and scarcity of labour in key sectors of the UK and European economy, such as logistics and agriculture, is further driving increased demand.