Rolls-Royce eyes sale of Hucknall site

Rolls-Royce says it is will give its Hucknall facility and transfer all staff over to its ITP Aero business, which it will then look to sell, in a move which could “unlock new growth and investment opportunities” for the site.

The decision is part of the Derby manufacturer’s ongoing detailed review of its civil aerospace facility footprint, and will mean aero-engine structures will no longer be built at it Barnoldswick plant in the north-west.

Rolls said that it the move means the Barnoldswick site will remain open, but that it understands the news will be “hugely upsetting” for staff there, who will now face redundancy. It is making the decision, it said, because of a “significant reduction” in global demand for its products and services from commercial aviation customers, which is forecast to last several years

A statement from Rolls said: “Hucknall, which manufactures a range of aero-engine parts, will bring ITP Aero new capabilities and become a critical part of the enlarged business, helping to secure the future of the site. As part of ITP Aero, the Hucknall site will, in future, have the potential to unlock new growth and investment opportunities.

Chris Cholerton, president – civil aerospace, said: “Since the beginning of the pandemic we have taken swift action to protect our business by both reducing our spending and costs, and by raising additional funds. But despite the prospect that business will eventually return to normal, sparked by recent news of vaccines, the pandemic has created a once-in-a-generation shock to the whole of commercial aviation and it is going to take years to recover. By completing the restructuring of our civil aerospace business we can emerge as a stronger, more efficient and sustainable business able to tackle some of the world’s toughest technological challenges.”

“The proposals we are laying out today will provide an opportunity for our workforce in Hucknall to benefit from being part of an enlarged global aerospace leader that can compete for business with other engine manufacturers. But I understand that the announcement will be hugely upsetting for our colleagues in Barnoldswick. This is a very difficult proposal to make, but we cannot afford to retain every Rolls-Royce factory that was supported by demand that has been dramatically reduced by the pandemic. No government support scheme can replace sustainable customer demand and no government can sign-up to extending the sort of short-term measures we have been very grateful for, over multiple years.”

“The impact and pain of the pandemic on civil aerospace is not only being felt by our colleagues in the UK. We have already announced proposals to unfortunately reduce our Civil Aerospace workforce in Germany by almost a quarter due to the reduction in demand from customers, while in Singapore several hundred jobs have been impacted as part of our global restructuring and we are consolidating the assembly and testing of our widebody engines into the UK. We have also announced the closure of a whole Civil Aerospace manufacturing site in the US, which is less than a decade old, and the work it used to carry out will now be done in the UK.”

Rolls said it is now preparing to sell its ITP Aero business as part of a plan to raise £2bn to strengthen its balance sheet.

A statement added: ” ITP Aero is a key partner for Rolls-Royce and we will retain a long-term relationship with the business – including the operations we are today proposing to place within it – across our Civil Aerospace and Defence programmes. ITP Aero works with other large commercial and business aviation engine manufacturers and a disposal could unlock new growth and investment opportunities, including by enabling it to attract further work from third parties.”

Meanwhile, Rolls has said that it will continue the manufacture of aero engine fan cases in Ansty in the West Midlands, and making aero-engine turbine blades and compressors aerofoils at its Inchinnan, Scotland.