Placed at number 87 in this year's Top 100, The Doncasters Group has had deep pockets to draw on since May 2006, when its acquisition by Dubai International Capital (DIC) was completed. It flexed its financial muscle a year later, acquiring US firm FastenTech to create two new divisions: Fastener Systems and Precision Engineering Technologies.

Present also in the industrial gas turbine sector, Doncasters manufactures a range of components for both civil and military aeroengines and auxiliary power units. Under a $300 million contract awarded in February 2005, it has partnered Hamilton Sundstrand to provide turbo-machinery for the Boeing 787's APS5000 APU. Its new-programme involvement deepened in June 2007 when it was contracted by Snecma to machine aerofoils for the high-pressure turbine nozzle guide vanes used in the A400M's Europrop TP400-D6 engine.

Engine blade forming 
 © Doncasters

Five months later, Rolls-Royce - a long-standing customer - awarded Doncasters a €40 million ($62.3 million) contract to manufacture investment cast blades for the Trent 800 engine, which powers the Boeing 777.

The aerospace customer base - which has also featured MTU and Pratt & Whitney - is served from manufacturing sites in the UK, the USA and Mexico. Capabilities span investment castings, precision forgings, fabrications, machining and super-alloy production. In the year to 31 December 2007, aerospace sales rose 15.4% to $420 million. At group level, sales more than doubled to $1.38 billion, while the operating result rose from $8 million to $54 million.

This prosperity follows a grim period in the early part of the decade when the aerospace and industrial gas turbine sectors were hit hard by (respectively) the post-9/11 downturn and the Enron scandal. "We made a number of changes to our operations," says chief executive Eric Lewis. "These included creating separate aerospace and industrial gas turbine divisions...and cutting out all non-core business operations."

New manufacturing processes were also introduced. "With all of these changes paying dividends, we have more than 130 new products on the stocks that we'll convert into sales over the next two to three years," says Lewis. "This optimism isn't based on blue-sky thinking but on contracts already won."

Eric Lewis Doncasters
 © Doncasters

Further acquisitions loom, as does increased capital expenditure: more than £200 million ($398 million) will be invested within a three-year period.




Source: Flight International