Signature Flight Support intends to press ahead with its aggressive acquisition strategy as it continues to expand its network footprint.

The business aviation services provider has already added seven new fixed base operations (FBOs) to this year, including the August purchase of Scottsdale AirCenter for $55.8 million.

Several more deals are in the pipeline, promises Maria Sastre, Signature president and chief operating officer, and could be signed off by year-end.

That growth comes despite the overall business aviation segment still recovering from what Sastre describes as a “disastrous recessionary period”.

Signature, she says, is “actively engaged” in growing its network as “during these times it’s actually interesting because you can find even greater opportunities for growth”.

However, she cautions that it has to be “the right growth, not growth at any cost”.

In addition to the acquisitions, the firm continues its licencing programme under the Signature Select brand, with several facilities enrolled in the scheme this year.

Franchising the Signature name allows a business “to gain traction in the market”, she says. In total there are 121 FBOs in the network – including franchises – with 74 of these in North America.

During the downturn Signature maintained levels of investment in its existing network, says Sastre, both in terms of capital expenditure and people.

Expansion of existing facilities is also on going. An $83 million ground-up construction project is under way at its site in San Jose, California where the new FBO is scheduled to open next year. Signature is additionally “significantly expanding” its footprint at London Luton. Other improvement work continues at FBOs in Minneapolis, St Louis and Mobile.

Meanwhile, the firm continues to evaluate how to tap into the growth potential offered by emerging markets.

“China is the one on everyone’s radar,” says Sastre, “but the question is how do you successfully do business there?”

She notes that emerging markets generally require the creation of a joint venture as “it is very difficult to do something on your own”. Although there is inherent risk in this process, it can be managed “if you have done your job vetting the right partner”, she says.

Other regions in the spotlight include Latin America and Asia, she adds.

Signature, which additionally provides ground handling and fueling services saw revenue in the period to 30 June grow by 13% to $548 million, according to parent company BBA Aviation.

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Source: Flight Daily News