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West Midlands Manufacturing collective undertakes major investment drive

13 March 2024
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A manufacturing collective that thrives on bringing work back to the UK has enjoyed a major sales boost.

The Manufacturing Assembly Network (MAN), which consists of six sub-contract manufacturers, an electric motor consultancy and a specialist engineering design agency, has seen a £20 million increase in orders, with several high-profile export contracts secured in the EU, the Middle East, and the Far East.

Customers from across automotive, aerospace, construction, electrification, and renewables have decided to back British innovation and quality and this has led to more than 50 new jobs being created across member companies.

These new opportunities are being reinforced by a £4.5 million investment drive in new capital equipment, automation, MRP systems and a Precision Tooling Academy to train the toolmakers of the future.

Tony Sartorius, Chairman of Alucast, one of the founding members of MAN, explained: “Despite really difficult trading conditions and high inflationary pressures, UK manufacturing has continued to defy the odds, and this is reflected in the performance of the Manufacturing Assembly Network.

"A £20 million boost in sales is some achievement and we believe this highlights a change in purchasing attitudes where customers are now looking for more strategic partnerships and suppliers who can add value throughout the entire process. We’re also seeing lots of new opportunities in electrification and light weighting.

He continued: “One of the biggest challenges the group is having is finding the right people as we plan for more growth in 2024. We’ve created over 50 jobs in the last twelve months, but still have lots of positions available.”

The Manufacturing Assembly Network encourages collaboration, best practice sharing and to promote UK manufacturing. 

It is made up of Alucast, Brandauer, FluxSys, Grove Design, James Lister & Sons, KimberMills International, Nemco and PP Control & Automation.

Collectively, the group boasts more than £100 million in annual sales, employs more than 900 people and exports products to more than 50 countries from its 17 factories. 

In May last year, it responded to the Government’s faltering strategic vision for industry by delivering the MANifesto, its own blueprint for making the country globally competitive.

READ MORE: Redditch manufacturers launch MANifesto as wait for Industrial Strategy goes on

Bosses highlighted four key pillars of People, International Trade, Sustainability & Net Zero and Investment as being key to the future growth of the UK.

“We’ve certainly lived up to our MANifesto, with more than £4.5m invested over the last twelve months. This has ranged from the purchase of a high pressure die casting machine and automated SMT assembly equipment to new forging simulation software, high speed presses and, in our own case, the latest automated cable harness production technology,” added Tony Hague, Chief Executive of PP Control & Automation.

“Investment has been in people too, with many of our members committed to developing apprentices and offering opportunities to graduates through our work with WMG and other academic institutions. We can’t stand still – how we harness skills and technology to deliver more productive businesses will be crucial to building on a successful twelve months.”

He concluded: “One of our member companies - Brandauer - has even worked with In-Comm Training to launch and grow the UK’s first ever Precision Tooling Academy. It has done this for the good of industry and to ensure we have the volume of toolmakers the UK is going to need to be a world leader once again.”

The Manufacturing Assembly Network plans to host its largest ever Design & Make Challenge this year, a STEM-focused competition that aims to inspire Year 10 and Year 11 students to consider a career in engineering and manufacturing.


Nicky Godding is editor of The Business Magazine. Before her journalism career, she worked mainly in public relations moving into writing when she was invited to launch Retail Watch, a publication covering retail and real estate across Europe.

After some years of constant travelling, she tucked away her passport and concentrated on business writing, co-founding a successful regional business magazine. She has interviewed some of the UK’s most successful entrepreneurs who have built multi-million-pound businesses and reported on many science and technology firsts.

She reports on the region’s thriving business economy from start-ups, family businesses and multi-million-pound corporations, to the professionals that support their growth and the institutions that educate the next generation of business leaders.

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