BGF invests £6m growth capital in Prodrive Composites

The business, which is based in Milton-Keynes, works within the automotive, aerospace and marine sectors producing lightweight, high performance composite components and structures, such as interior trims and bodywork.

Prodrive Composites was created in the early 2000s by Prodrive to support its motorsport activities. The company is one of the world’s most successful motorsport businesses with six World Rally titles, four British Touring Car titles and four Le Mans titles. Prodrive Composites has since expanded its customer base to include a growing number of premium and sports car manufacturers and aerospace customers.

Prodrive Composites managing director, Dominic Cartwright, joined the business in September 2013 from CTG Ltd, a company owned by United Technologies Corporation. Under his leadership, Prodrive Composites’ sales hit £13m last year and are on course to grow to more than £15m at the end of this financial year.

The business employs nearly 200 people at its manufacturing plant in Milton Keynes. The production process is carried out in-house, from receipt of raw material to production of the finished high-performance components and structures. In the past 18 months the business has achieved significant capacity improvements, reducing the cycle time from raw material to finished parts from an average of six to eight weeks down to two weeks.

Carbon fibre composites offer a lightweight solution for premium car manufacturers looking to reduce vehicle fuel consumption, emissions and improve handling and aesthetics. In 2014, global automotive composites market was valued at US$3bn and is expected to increase to US$7bn by 2022.

While Prodrive Composites’ customer base is mostly automotive, it also carries out work in the aerospace industry and is manufacturing the main vehicle chassis for the European Space Agency’s ExoMars programme.

As part of the deal, John Weston joins the company as non-executive chairman after being introduced to the business by BGF. John spent 32 years in the aerospace and defence industry, concluding as CEO of BAE Systems with sales of £12.5bn and 120,000 employees. He now works to support a number of small companies in the high technology and manufacturing fields including as Chairman of MB Aerospace, Accesso, Windar Photonics and Fibercore. He is also a non-executive director at Torotrak. BGF’s Ian Downing joins the board as non-executive director and James Syrotiuk as board observer.

Dominic Cartwright said: “This is an exciting time in the composites industry and for Prodrive Composites. Demand is growing and we are well placed to service this. As a partner in the business, BGF brings both investment and an external perspective and we are very much looking forward to being able to call on their support as we continue to grow.

“We are also delighted to welcome John Weston to our board. John’s knowledge, contacts and experience will prove invaluable as we look to move the business into its next stage of growth.”

Ian Downing, investor, BGF said: “The demand for carbon fibre composites is on a clear upwards trajectory and Prodrive Composites has the legacy, ambition and customer base to really capitalise on that. We are looking forward to becoming a stakeholder in the company and working alongside Prodrive to help deliver this.”