Management buyout at historic forgings firm

One of the Black Country’s oldest established steel forging businesses is under new ownership following a takeover by its management team.

Management

Picture: Law firm Hawkins Hatton aided the sale of Victoria Drop Forge in Willenhall to its management. From left: Geoff Radford, of Victoria, Ruth Murday of Hawkins Hatton, Terry Hitchen of Garratts, Jeremy Jones and Geoff Howles., both from Victoria.

One of the Black Country’s oldest established steel forging businesses is under new ownership following a takeover by its management team.

Victoria Drop Forgings, based in Wednesfield Road, Willenhall has been bought by Geoff Howles and Geoff Radford who purchased the shares from the previous owner Jeremy Jones for an undisclosed sum.

The company has been under family ownership for more than a century, but the new owners promise a fresh era of growth following the takeover.

Established in 1910, Victoria Drop Forgings has been supplying the aircraft industry since the 1930s and currently provides aerospace components and fittings including the fuel line connector Rolls Royce used on their Trent engine range.

The company also manufactures a variety of drop forgings for the engineering industries using an extensive range of materials including carbon, alloy, stainless and heat resisting steels as well as non-ferrous materials such as copper, brass and bronze. It is able to produce small forgings up to four kilograms.

New owner Geoff Radford has spent his career in the forging and fabrications industry and recently returned to the UK after a spell running an overseas engineering group.

He said that as well as expanding on the company’s established reputation in the aerospace and engineering sectors, the new owners were looking to acquire another complementary brass/aluminium press forging business which would be integrated into Victoria Drop Forgings in early 2014.

“We are a very traditional, old family firm operating in a niche market within the aircraft industry which is predicted to grow by five per cent a year over the next 20 years,” he said.

“Although the forging process has remained constant for many years, advances in technology have revolutionised the design and production of the dies and tools the company use for forgings,” he said. “We will continue to invest in the latest technology which gives many advantages over conventional die milling with greatly enhanced accuracy, repeatability of product and speed of manufacture.”

“Through ongoing investment we aim to further improve flexibility for our customers whilst reducing the cost and lead time from enquiry to delivery of the finished product,” added Mr Radford.

Hawkins Hatton, the Dudley based corporate law firm, acted for the management team, carrying out all the due diligence and advising and negotiating on the transaction.

Ruth Murday, associate solicitor at Hawkins Hatton, said: “Victoria Drop Forgings is a traditional manufacturing company that has become synonymous with industries in the Black Country over the years. It is one of only a few remaining forging businesses in the UK and as such we were delighted to act for the management team who are committed to building on the company’s long and successful history by providing further investment into the business.”

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