A FIRM that makes small plastic parts for cars has big ambitions to be one of the top manufacturing companies in Europe after it turned over more than £32m last year.
Now, Stockton-based Nifco UK hopes to grow its sales from £32.5m in 2011 to nearly £60m in 2015 following a record year of new business being achieved and positive expectations for the coming years.
Nearly 40% of all inquiries were converted into purchase orders last year and the firm exceeded its Japanese parent company’s targets, despite another tough year for the car industry.
However, the firm’s pre-tax profits fell from £5m in 2010 to £3.8m in 2011 due to the weak pound, competition putting pressure on prices and increased costs.
Costs associated with the firm’s £8.5m new factory build in Stockton also affected its operating profits in 2011.
The firm supplies plastic injection-moulding components to UK automotive plants such as Nissan, Honda and Toyota, and exports to firms including Ford.
At the helm of Nifco UK Ltd is Mike Matthews. In 28 years at Nifco he has risen through the ranks to his current role as managing director of the Teesside operation.
In the company’s latest financial report, Matthews said: “During 2011 the company exceeded parent company targets, despite another extremely challenging year in respect to material price increases, further increases in utilities costs and costs associated with our other new factory build project.
“The company has seen the dimensions of the business increase for a second year as we see the benefits of sustained highly focused sales activity, which has been achieved against a background of good operational customer service results.
“Sales in the fourth quarter were strong with our principal customers, the UK based automotive industry, and is projected to continue in 2012.
“Nifco has continued to grow through 2011 with turnover improving by 14% year on year. However, operating profit percentage decreased from 2011 due to several factors.
“Firstly, our business was re-adjusted to current exchange rate against primarily the yen which accounted for approximately three percentage points.
“Customer pressure on price, increased material, utility and logistics costs contributed to the remainder of the decrease.
“Internal costs were kept in control and matched 2010 rates. Considering the 14% increase in activity and especially new projects and the building of a new factory this can be regarded as good control.”
During 2011 Nifco moved into its £8.5m factory. The investment was self-funded from reserves with no borrowings.
The firm is growing rapidly with an unprecedented amount of business won in 2011. To support this growth Nifco is forecast to spend £11m on capital equipment by the end of 2013, of which £1.3m was spent last year.
The Government has supported this investment by awarding Nifco up to £1.65m from the Regional Growth Fund.