Firth Rixson wins $1bn deal to supply engine parts to US giant

Nick Clegg visiting Firth Rixson's plant
Nick Clegg visiting Firth Rixson's plant
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ONE of the biggest names in Yorkshire manufacturing has sealed a major deal with a US-based aerospace company.

Sheffield-based Firth Rixson has signed a 10-year agreement valued at more than $1bn with United Technologies Corporation to supply engine and system components for the UTC Propulsion & Aerospace Systems’ businesses Pratt & Whitney and UTC Aerospace Systems.

A company spokesman said: “As UTC ramps up production of its commercial and military aircraft systems and engines, Firth Rixson will provide valuable parts for UTC’s legacy and next generation programmes, including Pratt & Whitney’s PurePower engine family, and UTC Aerospace Systems Boeing 787 and Airbus A320 programmes.”

David Mortimer, the chief executive of Firth Rixson, said yesterday: “UTC demands high standards for quality, delivery, cost and performance, and many of our sites have earned UTC supplier ‘gold’ status. I am convinced this contributed to our ability to win new business. We are delighted to have gained their customer confidence and secured Firth Rixson as a leading supplier in this globally competitive market.”

He added: “The contract also provides incentives for additional growth above and beyond the initial portfolio, which we will work towards obtaining.”

Firth Rixson supplies seamless rolled rings, forgings and metals to the aerospace market, and also to industries such as mining, oil and gas. The company’s operations in the US, UK, Europe and China, serve a customer base in more than 40 countries.

Benoit Brossoit, the vice president, UTC Operations, said: “We are pleased to further expand our relationship with Firth Rixson, a supplier with several UTC supplier gold sites. This had significant influence on their selection for new business. Gold suppliers perform better, which naturally makes them more competitive.”

Last month, Firth Rixson changed hands in a $2.85bn deal.

Alcoa agreed to buy Firth Rixson from US private equity firm Oak Hill Capital Partners.

The deal will grow Alcoa’s aerospace segment and boost the light metals giant’s production of nickel and titanium goods. Alcoa, formerly the Aluminium Company of America, is the third biggest aluminium producer in the world behind Rio Tinto Alcan and Rusal.

Firth Rixson can trace its history back to Firth Brown and Woodhouse and Rixson, the founding fathers of the steel industry in the early 19th century. Last month, Peter Bland, chief financial officer, told The Yorkshire Post: “It’s a deal that works well for both parties. For Firth Rixson’s perspective, we have been on a remarkable growth trajectory over the last several years.

“Our annual sales have increased from $300m to more than $1bn today, so tremendous growth. Our current owner has been incredibly supportive, making a number of transformational investments.

“These investments have ensured the business has grown and will continue to grow at a very strong rate. That’s what attracted Alcoa.”

Carlyle, the US private equity giant, took the firm private in 2003 in a £106m deal in its first major investment in the UK.

It consolidated the aerospace rings sector and became the first Western ring-roller in China in 2005. Carlyle sold its stake to Oak Hill in a £2bn deal in 2007.

Firth Rixson has doubled the size of its facility in Sheffield in recent years and is investing £35m in plant and machinery at the site.

The company employs 550 people in Sheffield. It has six other sites across the UK. Recent visitors to its Sheffield factory have included Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg.