Express & Star

Walsall employer Babcock reports rising sales and profits

Engineering giant Babcock, which employs hundreds of people in Walsall, has played down economic concerns after revealing improved sales.

MacNeillie delivered Mercedes Sprinter vans for the police

The company boosted sales by 6.6 per cent to £2.3 billion in the six months to September 30, while operating profits were four per cent up at £172.2 million.

Babcock owns the specialist vehicle builder MacNeillie at Walsall, where it employs about 300 people.

Chief executive Archie Bethel said Babcock made "good progress" over the period, adding that the company was performing well in spite of economic woes such as Brexit and defence spending cuts.

He added: "The increasing number and value of our opportunities both in the UK and internationally, where we continue to gain traction, highlights Babcock's long-proven ability to grow despite uncertain market conditions.

"Our focus on technology-intensive critical services where barriers to entry are high has consistently enabled us to generate sustainable growth regardless of any decline in spending on original equipment."

The company added that its work is "critical and therefore not discretionary", meaning that its work in the defence and emergency services sectors are insulated from outside pressures.

MacNeillie was bought by Babcock in 2015 for £66 million and builds ambulances, riot vans and armoured cars for diplomats and VIPs, It employs around 300 at its factory in Stockton Close. Its skills are now being brought into play across the Babcock business.

In the Land Division, which includes the Walsall operation, Babcock grew revenues by 12.9 per cent to £892.3 million, but profits fell by 6.6 per cent to £42.4 million.

Mr Bethel added: "We have excellent revenue visibility with 92 per cent of budgeted revenue now in place for FY18, and we expect a slight improvement in overall group margin during the second half.

"We therefore remain confident that full year results will be in line with our expectations and that we will make further good progress beyond this year."