150 year-old manufacturer brought back from the brink

Birmingham manufacturer brand BSA Tools, which went into administration in 2015, has been brought back from the brink.

The brand was rescued by businessman and supply chain entrepreneur Paul Eyles who now employs 15 people on site at Kitts Green, where the company has been based since 1938.

Eyles, who bought the business in 2017, says the company is now turning a profit and looking to expand.

Former BSA employees have even been brought back from retirement to train a new intake of apprentices.

BSA was traditionally famous for the manufacture of single and multi-spindle automatic and CNC lathes, and it later branched out into motorcycle manufacturing, owning brands including Triumph and Daimler.

The “new” business is focusing on training, new machine sales, repairs and servicing, along with maintenance of a wide range of tooling machines it previously produced which still operate across the world.

The company, trading as BSA Machine Tools, went into administration in September 2015 due to cash flows issues caused by “adverse market conditions”, according to administrators EY.

At the time it employed 29 people. A part of the company, BSA Machine Tools, was bought by Halifax-based Machine Tool Technology Group in 2015, saving 11 jobs.

It remained in administration for several years with a skeleton staff of three before being bought out.

BSA, which originally stood for Birmingham Small Arms, can trace its roots back to 1692, when a group of gunsmiths banded together to manufacture Snapshot muskets. The Birmingham Small Arms Company Limited was officially founded in 1861. It changed hands several times in the 1900s, and at one point was owned by electrical giant Electrolux.

Eyles said: “Britain, and the Midlands in particular, is famous for its manufacturing and engineering prowess which was the envy of the world,” said Paul.

“Unfortunately, it lost its way in the latter part of the 20th century through lack of investment, but the quality of the machines is testament to that historical excellence because they are still used by major automotive and aviation brands all over the globe.”

Robin Cray, who first joined the business in 1969, is now training the new intake of BSA apprentices. He said: “We want to bring quality British engineering back and helping these youngsters learn on the job is what it is all about. I still get excited today about repairing these machines and seeing something performing better.”

BSA’s business development manager Emily Eyles, said: “We want to further increase our workforce and pass on knowledge because there is such demand for the quality that is synonymous with the BSA brand.

“We have taken on apprenticeships as well as we’re committed to investing in the future and encouraging young people into making things once again. This is the start of what will be an engineering renaissance.”