Turnpyke, the tiny Midlands-based springs manufacturer with a market capitalisation value of £3.8m, has found a backer in high-profile industrialist David Abell.
Abell, who is currently seeking to join the board of Thomas Jourdan consumer-goods complex and unseat its chairman, used to head the Suter mini-conglomerate. He has emerged with a 4.5% stake in Turnpyke. Some watchers see the company as his next investment vehicle if the Jourdan venture comes unstuck.
Turnpyke is just starting to reap full benefits from changes effected since chairman Eric Cater and chief executive Charles Gillams took charge of the then loss-making company in 1993.
Cater has just reported 1996 profits up 66% year-on-year at £237,000, on sales ahead 47% at £5.4m.
The team has added two businesses to the core West Bromwich hot-formed and cold-coiled springs business. The most recent, Scanda Springs, specialises in light-compression spring and presswork.
West Bromwich margins topped 10% last year, and Gillams is setting that as a target for the whole group. Turnover this year should reach £7m, and Gilliams aims to raise that in the medium term to £10m, boosted by acquisitions.
These will be funded largely by, incongruously, house-building.
The company is developing a 5ha housing plot in Lancashire, bought speculatively by the former management. It hopes to generate up to £2m cash from the venture.
Also targeted as a source of funds is surplus land at the 18,580m2 Midlands site which is up for sale or rent.