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Future50: Indian venture could spark major growth spurt for Suffolk engineering firm Redbourn

PUBLISHED: 18:47 17 March 2017 | UPDATED: 09:11 20 March 2017

Business feature at Redbourn Engineering in Mildenhall. John Chester (ch exec).

Business feature at Redbourn Engineering in Mildenhall. John Chester (ch exec).

Archant

A global boom in the use of smart meters is set to fuel the growth of a pioneering East Anglian engineering company after it struck a major production deal with a leading Indian manufacturer.

Suffolk-based Redbourn makes and designs load switching technology used in smart electricity meters.

But with demand for the technology set to surge, the firm has struck a deal with O/E/N India Ltd to manufacture the 15 million units it needs to produce a year to supply markets in Europe, the Middle East and Asia.

John Chester, Redbourn chief executive, said the firm had spent around £750,000 to help fit out the new manufacturing centre in Pune, which it has chosen for its ability to provide the manufacturing scale to cope with expected demand.

Other advantages included shorter transit times to market, and an English-speaking workforce.

The firm, which is one of four global players supplying energy meter manufacturers, also wants to bolster its research and development team at Mildenhall.

“O/E/N is a perfect match for us, it’s unlocking the large volume operation for us for the European market, Middle East and Asia,” Mr Chester said.

“For us it’s a massive opportunity. This is a British-designed product in its entirety. We are expecting massive growth over the next two years when we expect to be doing something in the region of 15 million units a year, while in India alone there will be 250 million smart meters required in the next 10 to 15 years.

“We are currently a £5-6m turnover business and we are expecting that to increase 100% in the next 12 months and then by between 50-70% over the five years after that. We see Redbourn becoming a £20m to £25m turnover company.”

Trading and manufacturing links with countries such as India are likely to be a priority for UK plc in the wake of Brexit.

But Mr Chester said the firm’s strategy was less to do with Brexit and more to do with finding a cost-competitive way of scaling up manufacturing.

“We always knew we would have to manufacture at high volume offshore,” he added. “We want to retain our R&D Centre of Excellence at Mildenhall. We have a lot of support from Cambridge University and are very well located.”

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