One of Derby’s best-known engineering firms is shedding 16 jobs – despite having a “healthy” order book.
EPM Technology specialises in the manufacture of carbon composite components – including for Formula One teams.
Based in an ultra-modern factory off Raynesway, the 21-year-old firm also supplies to the automotive, aerospace, defence and bespoke sectors.
Managing director Graham Mulholland said the business currently had its “largest ever order book” with £5 million confirmed sales to Christmas 2017 and up to £10 million in the pipeline over the next 12 months.
But “external challenges” had resulted in the need to cut costs.
Mr Mulholland, who founded the business in 1996, said: “Our sales are topping £200,000-a-week and recent major contracts have included the design and manufacture of a £1.6 million advanced composites structure housing the LED screen for the U2 Joshua Tree world tour, which came to London at the weekend.
“Despite this healthy order book, we are facing the same challenging and competitive environment as everyone operating in the advanced composites industry who are working with F1 and to supply volume components to automotive and aerospace customers.”
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He said: “It has therefore been necessary to restructure the business in line with these external challenges and we decided, reluctantly, that 16 redundancies were required to tightly control our costs today and prepare EPM for growth tomorrow.
“There has been a short-term cash flow issue which has impacted supplier payments this week but this will be resolved by the middle of the week.
“Our finances are fully supported by all our shareholders and stakeholders alike.”
EPM Technology employs about 140 staff at its site in Belmore Way.
One employee said “several” redundancies had already taken place, with more “anticipated”.
The staff member, who wished to remain anonymous, added: “As employees we are obviously very nervous about our future.”
It is not the first time EPM has experienced financial difficulty. Mr Mulholland once recalled in a blog a time in 2006 when his company was “35 minutes from going bust”.
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Fortunately, the firm was about to enter a busy period and, by putting a plan together the business survived and ultimately prospered.
In 2014, the company left its premises in Draycott and moved into its current purpose-built £6 million site in Derby – described then as the “most advanced factory of its kind in Europe”.
In an interview with Business Weekly in March 2016, Mr Mulholland said the company had experienced an “explosion of growth”, with the 60,000sq ft factory helping secure substantial orders in the aerospace, motorsport, defence and automotive sectors.
This included a £22 million-plus order to produce and supply composite aircraft interior components and substructures, announced in December 2015.
A £4 million deal to manufacture cosmetic components made out of lightweight carbon fibre for an unnamed automotive business – the firm’s first production contract – was also announced a few months later.
As a result of the increasing workload, Mr Mullholland announced plans to create 30 new jobs.
EPM also carries out bespoke projects. An example is when the firm produced carbon fibre protective face mask for Derby County defender Richard Keogh, after the player broke his nose in three places during a fixture in January 2016.
Last month, EPM scooped the International Trade prize at the 2017 Derby Telegraph Business Awards.
Source: Derby Telegraph