Wagon still rolls

Wagon, the UK-based automotive engineering group, said it is in good shape, despite the demise of MG Rover.

The company, which supplies body structures and components to many of the world’s major car companies, said improved operational efficiencies would help offset the impact of Rover’s collapse on its profits.

Although the loss of MG Rover’s business and some work on the Renault Espace would result in lower sales overall, Wagon pointed to a record intake of new orders as evidence that its ongoing position was sound.

The company’s turnover on continuing operations fell 7.5 per cent to £451m in the year ending March. Profits before tax and exceptional items rose by 18 per cent to £19.4m, but a series of one-off costs led to an overall loss of £1.5m.

Order intake reached £83m last year compared to £67m previously with the potential for substantial further growth, according to the company.

Despite what it described as a ‘difficult’ European automotive market, Wagon said it had secured significant contracts during the year and is poised to expand its presence in Spain and Italy. New business included work on the Peugeot 207 Coupe Cabriolet, a new complete front-end for Nissan UK, front and rear bumpers for Land Rover and door frames for DaimlerChrysler in Germany.

Wagon will build a new plant in Orense, Spain, to supply components for the new Citroen Picasso and open a facility serving the Ducato light commercial vehicle in Pescara, Italy.

The company said the Ducato contract, secured from joint manufacturers Peugeot and Fiat, was an example of its success in winning commercial vehicle business with a longer programme life than is offered by passenger car models.

‘This type of contract enables Wagon to build a significant presence in this niche market for the years to come,’ the company told its shareholders.