Fighter factory renamed Boulton House and now home to Black Country flat-pack furniture company Seconique
The onetime Wolverhampton home of the legendary Boulton Paul Defiant night fighter is being brought back into use by a flat-pack furniture company as part of a £10 million investment.
Seconique, based in Wednesbury, has bought the former aircraft factory on Wobaston Road, Pendeford, after securing backing for its investment plans from Allied Irish Bank (GB).
The 450,000 sq ft building has undergone major renovation to become a warehouse and offices after more than 75 years as an aircraft factory. That use came to an end when the Moog aerospace company moved its operations over the road to a new £20m factory on the i54 development site in 2012.
It is now providing a base for the next stage in the growth of Seconique, which is one of the UK’s largest independent importers and wholesalers of flat pack furniture.
Formed in 1986 and with an annual turnover in the region of £27 million, Seconique is moving from Woden Road, Wednesbury to its new home at Pendeford after Black Country chartered surveyors Bulleys found and acquired the property for them.
The 17.5 acre site was once home to the Boulton Paul aircraft plant, which produced the famous Defiant night fighter in the Second World War. To mark this heritage Seconique has renamed the building as Boulton House.
Managing director Helen Barker, chief financial officer Philip Jones, the rest of the management team and their 92 staff members will transfer to the new site towards the end of this month
Seconique expects to recruit more in the next few months as its trading expands.
Helen Barker said: “One of the most critical factors in the moving process was the relocation of our huge levels of stock without disruption to our customers. Without exception all of our staff have been fantastic throughout. Seconique has been something of a sleeping giant for a while, but owning our own HQ gives us a great platform to move the business forward and we believe there’s huge scope for us in the years ahead."
She added: “After a long period of renting we felt it was time to purchase our own property, and the site at Wobaston road offered the size we required.
“As well as allowing us space to accommodate other business tenants there is also room for us to expand in the future.
“The new site is ideal as we have been able to redevelop the site to suit our specific needs and have created a better working environment for our staff.
“We’ve also been fascinated to be approached by older local people who used to work for Boulton Paul, and they’ve shown us photographs of how the factory used to be which we have had framed and put up around the building.
“We’re pleased to help maintain this heritage by redeveloping the building.”
The deal for the site was arranged by Black Country chartered surveyors Bulleys, which is is now marketing a surplus unit of 60,000 sq ft with a large yard at the site on behalf of Seconique.
James Bird, senior associate at Bulleys, said: “The Wobaston Road property is a major acquisition as there are only a limited number of buildings of this size and nature.
“It wasn’t easy to find a building of that size and took a while to achieve the sale, but we have worked closely with Seconique over the past few years and are delighted to have acquired this building for them.
“This site has a tremendous amount of history behind it and we were thrilled to work carefully with Seconique to retain an element of this for the future.”
Bulleys arranged the purchase from Cushman & Wakefield, with Ansons acting for Seconique, and the Allied Irish Bank providing finance.
Bartley Finnegan, senior relationship manager at Allied Irish Bank (GB) in Birmingham, who led the funding deal with colleague Brian Hammond, said: “AIB (GB) has worked with the owners and management team at Seconique for many years and this move to their own premises is an exciting stage in the company’s development. We look forward to seeing how the business grows and to continuing our relationship with Helen, Philip and the rest of the management team as they take those growth plans forward.”
Boulton Paul moved to Wolverhampton from Norfolk in 1935 and during the Second World War its factory in the city produced the distinctive Defiant night fighter, equipped with a rotating gun turret. After the war the factory passed through the hands of several aerospace companies, becoming a centre for manufacturing components for flight controls on a range before Moog bought the business from GE in 2009.