GKN sales and profits soar as pensions are shaken up

The group, which last week announced a substantial investment in a new wheel-making line in Telford and at other sites around the world, said sales grew by 15 per cent to £4.9 billion in the first six months of 2017.

Pre-tax profits tripled to £559 million as the company pledged to deliver “another year of growth”.

Chief executive Nigel Stein said: “We made progress in the first half and are on track for the full year.

“We are performing well against our key markets, demonstrating once again the strength of our businesses, strong market positions and leading technology. We continue to invest for growth and have made significant progress to address our UK pension deficit.

“Our focus on innovation in key areas such as electrified drivetrains, additive manufacturing and Industry 4.0 is paying dividends and underpins our confidence in the longer term.

“2017 is expected to be another year of growth. Our reputation for technological leadership in our key markets, our focus on driving flexibility and productivity through our manufacturing plants and our market leading position in all three divisions mean we are well placed for the future.”

Meanwhile, the company has also announced it is to close its defined benefit pension scheme to future accrual, and is to pump in £250 million to help address its deficit, which fell from £1.2 billion to £1.06 billion between the start of the year and the end of June.

As well as the aerospace, driveline and powder metallurgy divisions, GKN has a chain earmarked Other Businesses – and this is where Telford’s wheels, parts and chassis plant lies.

The company said it had seen a £3 million boost to sales in this division, partly thanks to a good performance in wheel making and the benefits of the fall in the value of the pound, but the overall sales in the division fell from £186 million to £146 million because of the sale of one of its businesses.

About 340 people are now employed at the company’s Hadley Park plant.

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