600 reasons to be cheerful

600 reasons to be cheerful

A MANUFACTURER in Heckmondwike is back in the black thanks partly to rising sales in the USA.

Machine tool maker The 600 Group reported profits of £3.9m in the year to March 30 after losing £14.9m the previous year.

The firm saw an increasing market share across the pond, where they sell drills, saws and grinding machines.

Machine tool consumption actually fell by seven per cent over the trading year but Union Street-based firm’s market share rose.

Chief executive Nigel Rogers said: “The statistics were quite subdued in the second half of the year, but our own sales grew.

“Unemployment in the USA is coming down and we’re seeing renewed confidence in manufacturing.

“It’s not reflected in the machine tool statistics, but we think it will be by the second half of this year.”

Revenues rose 11.2 per cent to £41.8m, allowing The 600 Group to reduce its debts from £8m to £5.4m.

Coupled with proceeds from a share issue in September last year, the firm has used the extra capital to its refurbish premises.

Some £600,000 was spent on a new internal factory layout based on the Japanese Kanban or ‘just in time’ process.

Other moves include selling the group’s South African waste handling machinery business.

Jobs have also been lost in Heckmondwike, tempered by moving the head office there from Leeds.

The firm still counts BMW, McLaren, BAE Systems and Rio Tinto as customers for equipment such as computer-controlled lathes.

Managing director Mike Berry added of the refurbishment: “We have a proud heritage, strong brand reputation and a very capable workforce.

“We intend to build on our success by providing a working environment that will facilitate more efficient production lead times.”

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