Manufacturer optimistic despite Brexit and Covid concerns

Autins, the manufacturer of acoustic and thermal insulation solutions, remains optimistic about is prospects despite the very noisy economic backdrop.

Brexit, Covid-19 and the global supply issues with semi-conductors to the automotive market have all affected its performance over the last year.

The Rugby-headquartered business is focused on automotive insulation and makes noise and heat management products for some of Europe’s largest car companies, including Jaguar Land Rover and Aston Martin.

Revenues for the year to September were down 20% to £21.5m and losses increased slightly to £1.7m.

Changes made in recent months on costs and operational efficiencies, as well as progress in new markets, are seen as crucial in putting the business in a stronger position for the long-term.

Autins chief executive Gareth Kaminski-Cook told “As the market recovers, we will recover to at least 2019 levels and we will grow quickly beyond that. The timing is the question mark.”

He expects Brexit issues to cause some disruption at the border for a month or two, but the impact of Covid-19 remains uncertain.

“We have to be realistic,” he said. “We are still going through a combination of things that create difficulty and challenge in our business and our customers’ businesses.

“We have got a very good cash position and a strong balance sheet and we have got the operating costs and overhead position in place for when the recovery comes.”

Its cash position has been supported by £3.3m of new finance facilities, mostly from the CBILS scheme in the UK and a similar initiative in Germany, and a £1.5m loan secured with the Midlands Engine Investment Fund.

It also reduced its workforce in late summer, making around 10% of its staff redundant. It now employs 145 staff in the UK and a further 42 overseas, and is still using some furlough support.

Changes in the business mean it would now break even on revenues 20% lower than a year ago, although its ambitions are more upbeat.

He said: “During the pandemic we understood how much more we could get out of a smaller workforce while we based our own forecasts on less than 100% market recovery to make sure we didn’t put too much cost in the business.”

The company moved over into manufacturing PPE but despite some early successes as it developed product and had promising conversations with the UK Government, it no longer believes there is a commercial opportunity in that market.

However it has enjoyed more success in other non-automotive markets. Its flooring business, which is mainly in Germany, is expected to double sales next year to £3m.

“It’s a real vote of confidence,” said Kaminski-Cook. “That business is very well-set and its growth will be consistent.”

It is also seeing opportunities in a range of market sectors, including office pods and medical devices.