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  • Top 100: Chemring flares business burns brightly

Top 100: Chemring flares business burns brightly

Chemring Group has continued its steady progress up the Top 100 table this year through a mixture of organic growth and acquisitions.

The Fareham, UK-based group's countermeasures division manufactures airborne infrared and chaff decoys for fixed- and rotary-wing platforms. Its pyrotechnics division includes distress flare and smoke marker production.

Chemring chief David Price


In spite of the recession, the group passed three financial milestones in 2009: group revenue exceeded £500 million ($750 million) for the first time, underlying pre-tax profit rose above £100 million and the group's market capitalisation breached the £1 billion mark. The year-end orderbook was up 37%, at £559 million.

Chemring claims to hold slightly more than 50% of the global market for countermeasure flares, its share having risen sharply as a result of last decade's Iraqi campaign. Its UK countermeasures business continued to operate at "very high levels of production", says the group, with demand for flares for the Eurofighter Typhoon continuing to grow as the number of aircraft in service with customers steadily increases.

In the USA, its Kilgore Flares division won a five-year "indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity" contract to produce decoys for the protection of transport aircraft, while Chemring Australia was awarded a long-term contract to provide countermeasures and pyrotechnics for the Australian armed forces.

A state-of-the-art manufacturing plant is being built near Melbourne, while a research and development centre will also be established. Similarly, the countermeasures division is constructing a manufacturing facility in Salisbury, UK.

The group's expansion over the past five years has been off the back of this booming countermeasures business. Group chairman Ken Scobie ascribes its development to "a clearly defined policy of organic growth, a focused programme of acquisitions... and subsequent investment in product and facilities to cover future expansion".

Chemring's latest orders include a four-year contract to supply IR flares for the US Air Force's Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor fleet plus a similar two-year deal to cover the service's Boeing B-52 Stratofortresses.

Among the group's newer divisions is Chemring Energetics, whose products chief executive David Price describes as "anything that goes bang, whizz or whoosh". Essentially, it offers controlled explosions, such as charges to blow off aircraft canopies in an ejection sequence.

Last year Chemring took over California-based Hi-Shear Technology, which produces squibs, cartridges and gas generators for the military aviation and space sectors.

  • Top 100 rank 68
  • HQ Fareham, UK
  • Aero revenues $786m
  • Sales growth 42.3%
  • Operating margin 20.4%
  • ROCE 21.2%
  • Employees 3,349
  • CEO David Price

Chemring's countermeasures division manufactures airborne infrared and chaff decoys. Picture: US Air Force/Senior Airman Julianne Showalter

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