Mega defence deal for welding firm

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A Rotherham metal fabricating firm has won a multi-million pound order to supply armoured cabs to the UAE.

Brinsworth-based MTL Advanced, which was rescued from administration last year, signed the 18-month deal with NIMR Automotive. The company will use its new robotic welding systems - bought as part of an £8m investment by new owners WEC Group - to make cabs and fit armoured glass and a weapon mounting system, before being painted in its new paint facility.

Karl Stewart, commercial director, said the contract showed MTL was a “leading manufacturing partner to global defence equipment suppliers.”

He added: “We are delighted to work with NIMR on this major project which demonstrates the strong partnership between the two companies and highlights NIMR’s role in supporting economic growth of SMEs in the UK.”

MTL Group collapsed into administration in February last year, with the loss of 157 jobs.

Problems with a previous NIMR contract contributed to the move. The £25m deal comprised half of the firm’s sales but design changes and complexities caused delays, crippling cash flow and leading to losses of more than £3m for the first eight months of the 2014 financial year.

Some 135 jobs were saved after WEC Group, of Darwen, Lancashire, bought the business.

As well as the £8m investment, it plans to buy MTL’s factory and six acres of land on Grange Lane for £7m, to give the company room for expansion. Since the acquisition 45 jobs have been created. Mr Stewart added.

”Our exports continue to grow and we are now exporting to five continents. We have an impressive facility that is ideal for contract manufacturing high volume quality products. Our defence division also offers design optimisation and vehicle survivability solutions.”

WEC comprises 14 companies specialising in welding and fabrication. Last year it invested £2.5m in equipment at its Blackburn sites and in the new Darwen-based powder coating division, launched in 2014.