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Brompton Bicycle to host Made Here Now backers to plot manufacturing strategy

Will Butler-Adams, chief executive of Brompton Bicycle, has issued a call for the UK's "best brains" to see jobs in manufacturing

Brompton Bicycle to host Made Here Now backers to plot manufacturing strategy

Brompton Bicycle - one of the UK's biggest manufacturing success stories - is to host a meeting for Made Here Now backers to map out new ideas for the project over the next five years.

The event on January 26 is intended to refine the strategy behind the website-based initiative, which started in 2014 as an effort to illuminate areas of UK manufacturing providing job opportunities for young people. The long-term aim of the scheme is to boost the numbers of young men and women considering manufacturing and engineering as a career.

Brompton is a key sponsor of Made Here Now which has backed the initiative from 2017. The company - the UK's biggest bicycle maker - has expanded strongly in the past decade, announcing sales of £106.9m in 2021-22, up 40 per cent from the previous year.

It employs more than 800 people, most of them in its factory in Greenford, West London. The number has grown since 2021 by more than 300, with many new recruits aged less than 30. Three quarters of the company's output is exported.

The bike maker last year made its 1 millionth two-wheeler and has emerged as one of Britain's biggest businesses successes.

Steve Adams, Made Here Now project director, said: “We are pleased important sponsors and supporters want to come to the Brompton meeting. We look forward to discussing a range of new ideas for taking the project to a new level.”

Made Here Now is a joint venture between journalist Peter Marsh and Pepperneck, a marketing and internet services company which is headed by Adams. It is financed solely through donations from sponsors who have a role in influencing the broad thinking behind the effort but have little day-to-day involvement.

People coming to the planning meeting at Brompton include sponsors, as well as representatives of organisations which share similar ideas to Made Here Now but do not contribute to funds. Among those expected to attend are people from sponsors including Renishaw, TTP, Bluetree and Goodfish - all manufacturing and technology businesses - and Comino Foundation, ERA Foundation and the Royal Commission for the Exhibition of 1851, which are charities.

The Kaizen Institute consultancy - another sponsor - is also expected to be represented as are non-sponsor groups including the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, Make UK, the Made in Britain promotional body, Santander Bank and manufacturers Fracino, Ercol, JJ Churchill and Filtermist.

The meeting takes place a day after both Marsh and Will Butler-Adams, chief executive of Brompton, are two of the speakers at a Foundation for Science and Technology (FST) seminar at London's Royal Society which will consider how UK advanced manufacturing can boost the economy over the next few years following recent severe economic shocks.

The event - postponed from the original date of November 9 last year - is expected to attract some 100 people from manufacturing, academic establishments, financial services and government. Anyone interested in attending the January 25 FST gathering can read more details and register here.

Brazing is an important technology for Brompton: key people include Rebecca Francis, brazing training officer, and Abdul El Saidi, head of brazing

Last May, Brompton announced it would be quitting its London factory later this decade for a new plant being planned for Ashford, Kent at a cost of £75m. The logic behind the move is that Brompton is running out of space in Greenford after recent expansion while it also expects costs further from the capital to be lower.

In its financial results for 2021-22, Brompton drew attention to rising costs - covering raw materials and logistics as well as employment - which led to a fall in pre-tax profits to £7.3m from £9.6m despite the big increase in sales.

The new facility - due to open in about 2027 - will allow a big expansion in output with the company's headcount likely to almost double over this period to around 1,500. Many of the new recruits are expected to be people in their 20s and 30s.

A drinks bar made from brazed tubes is among the features at the Greenford plant

Among the technologies that Brompton has focused on in the past decade is brazing - a form of welding regarded as very difficult to master and which requires extensive training. The company employs a team of nearly 60 brazers - some of whom have used their skills to create an unusual drinks bar at the company's headquarters which is supported by a lattice arrangement of brazed metal tubes.

Discussing the new factory, Butler-Adams issued a call for the UK's “best brains” to work in manufacturing and technology, adding: “The world is facing some big problems and they won't be solved by people manipulating currencies or creating bitcoin. We need to tackle these problems through technology, industry and innovation.”

Facilities for employees at the factory include a games area (above) and a cafe