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Brook Crompton `will keep UK manufacturing`

01 June, 2002

Brook Crompton `will keep UK manufacturing`

Brook Crompton "will retain a strong UK manufacturing presence", according to the company`s managing director, Steve Crowther. Speaking at the Drives & Controls show in Birmingham last month, Crowther conceded that the motor manufacturer had had a "lacklustre" performance over recent years and had been "too inward-looking". But he predicted that under its new owner, the Singapore-based Lindeteves-Jacoberg (L-J) group, "a much more aggressive Brook Crompton will emerge".

Crowther (above) admitted that customer service had suffered as a result of the changes in the company, "but we`re coming out of that". The company`s restructuring, which began under its former owner Invensys, is almost complete. More than 70% of the production facilities previously housed in Huddersfield have been transferred to the organisation`s Polish plant.

But the company still has three LV manufacturing plants in the UK (in Guisely, Huddersfield and Birmingham) as well as two in China, and one each in Germany and India. Altogether there are around 6,000 employees in the group, producing some two million motors a year. Crowther claims that Brook Crompton still holds more than half of the £90m UK market for industrial motors, 15% of the £1.1bn European market and 5% of the £4.1bn world market.

The company is rationalising its range to a core which will include both high and standard specification models. It is also re-engineering its motors to ensure identical performance wherever they are made. "We are not just trying to stick a badge on a cheap motor," Crowther emphasizes.

One area where Brook Crompton wants to boost its presence is in the market for "commodity" motors. "We`re not selling as many standard AC motors as we`d like," says Crowther. He believes that the changes now underway will help to change that. "We now have the cost base to compete worldwide," he says.

Crowther believes that the change in ownership has been beneficial. "It was important to get away from a group which saw motors as non-core," he says. "Lindeteves-Jacoberg were prepared to divest other businesses to focus on motors — that was very important to me."

Crowther sees opportunities to expand the L-J group through further acquisitions, particularly in North America. He is also looking to form a partnership with an inverter supplier. This will be separate from the existing joint venture with Danfoss that produces integrated motor-inverters.

Brook Crompton is also looking to expand into areas including variable speed and permanent magnet motors. "We are working actively in both areas," Crowther reports. PM motors have the potential to offer high efficiencies at low speeds but, until now, have been too expensive for widespread use. The costs are now coming down, and Brook Crompton is likely to start producing PM machines during 2003, initially targeting markets such as gearless elevator drives.

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