British Machine Gun Manufacturer Expanding

An important British arms manufacturer, Manroy Engineering Ltd.  has relocated its production facilities from Sandhurst, Berkshire to Beckley, East Sussex, near the town of Rye. The company’s major product is the M2 heavy machine gun, a 50 calibre machine gun. Its main customer seems to be the UK Ministry of Defence.

Manroy started out in 1975 as a ‘mom and pop machine gun factory’ owned by Roy and Madeleine Swainbank.

Manroy appears to be the only UK producer of heavy machine guns. Manroys Company Information Disclosure‘ reveals that UK MOD “works closely with Manroy, holding bi-annual strategy meetings in which it has actively encouraged Manroy to provide a broader offering of logistical support and services to the MOD.”

The UK MOD has been buying the M2 for many years, and uses it throughout its operations. Recently Manroy has made a major sale to a ‘middle eastern country’, which appears to be Saudi Arabia. (Manroy has made sales to Saudi Arabia before, however the secrecy involved in this sale suggests the possibility of a more ‘sensitive’ destination for these weapons).

Manroy also reveals that it has had sales to ‘approximately’ 30 countries, as approved by the UK government. The new management at Manroy claims that it has doubled production, and will pursue a strategy of growing exports in North and South America, North Africa, and the far east by ‘harnessing relationships of local representatives’ (an ominious statement that could mean many things).

Manroy states that it plans to bid for contracts to produce pistols and assault rifles for the MOD.

Manroy also produces the 7.62mm ‘General Purpose Machine Gun’, and various ‘accessories’. Photos and data about Manroy’s full product line can be found here.

According to Dow-Jones (as published in Automated Trader), Manroy Systems Ltd. has recently been purchased by Hurlingham PLC and floated on the AIM (Alternative Investment Market) stock market, under the name of Manroy PLC. In 2009 Manroy had a pretax profit of £1.2 million on revenues of £11.7 million.

The company plans to expand its production to include small arms, rifles, and pistols.

Manroy has been in a dispute with the UK MOD. In 2008 it was reported that the British army was running out of machine guns because of the dispute. This was particularly embarrassing for the army because UK pleas for replacements from the Americans were snubbed (the reasons aren’t clear).

The Sun article suggested that the original contract for spare parts was inadequate, and usage of the guns was higher than predicted.

This Telegraph report seemed to suggest that the dispute seemed to revolve around the demand that the UK MOD receive its parts in priority to Manroy’s sale to Saudi Arabia.

The M2 ‘Browning’ machine gun comes in many formats. It isn’t clear what format Manroy produces for the UK, but it is associated with the L111A1, (M2HB), suggesting it may supply a variety for formats to UK MOD. This Wikipedia article describes the Browning machine gun and its history.

The Manroy products appear to be used where ever UK land forces are deployed, including the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. UK MOD Defence News reports that “the ’50 Cal’ can knock holes through the thick compound walls found across Afghanistan with ease.” The machine guns are typically mounted on a vehicle, but can be hand carried. They have an effective range of up to 2,000 metres.

In early 2010 Manroy received orders from the MOD for About £11 million worth of parts and weapons systems, spread over three years.

16 February,2011 the UK MOD appears to have given Manroy a small contract (2011/S 10-014649) without competetive bid (because the service could not be provided without access to Manroy’s proprietary information). The contract was for £75,000.

The largest shareholder (18.1%) of Manroy Plc, as of 2010 was Caledonian Heritable Limited, which appears to be a venture capital company mostly involved in restaurants and the entertainment industry. Glyn Bottomly, the Manroy CEO, holds 16%, and Cazenove Capital Management Limited (an investment fund) holds 7.9%.

CEO Glyn Bottomley was most recently the Managing Director of AEI Systems, another larger British arms company with a base in Ascot, Berkshire, and remains so in 2011. (The former article includes a photo).

Manroy has exhibited at the 2010 ‘Eurosatory’ arms fair in France, and at the 2009 DSEI arms fair in London.

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