Posts Tagged Beckley

Manroy to move from Beckley, East Sussex to Slade Green

Unconfirmed news is that Manroy Engineering is closing its facility in Beckley, East Sussex, and moving those operations to its other facility at Slade Green. There will be redundancies at the Beckley facility. Slade Green is a ‘leafy green suburb’ on the extreme eastern margin of London.

Manroy was purchased by the Belgian arms company Herstal last month. Started as a small operation supplying heavy machine guns to the UK military, Manroy was bought out  a few years ago by venture capitalists who planned to expand the company with sales abroad. But their aggressive sales plans were thwarted by declining arms budgets and the Arab Spring, which thwarted the plans of Britain’s new Conservative government to expand arms sales to a range of authoritarian regimes.

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Belgian arms company Herstal takes over Sussex machine gun maker

Manroy, the British arms company with a manufacturing facility in Beckley, East Sussex has agreed to be purchased by the Belgian arms company Herstal. Manroy’s main products are heavy machine guns and turrets.

Originally a small company selling heavy machine guns to the UK military, a few years ago Manroy was taken over by aggressive  new owners who planned large expansion and took the company public. They also purchased a troubled American arms company.

Recently Manroy’s plans had fallen on hard times as arms budgets dropped, but especially as a result of Arab Spring. Before Arab Spring the UK Conservative government had pushed to expand British arms sales to countries previously forbidden, including several repressive regimes. Manroy was attempting to sell arms to Libya’s Gaddafi (with the full support of the UK government) when British policy towards Gaddafi sudden shifted. Quickly following, the government was forced to abandon plans to expand arms sales to many of the repressive regimes it had previously targeted.

Manroy’s ambitious expansion plans were never realised, and the company was eventually put up for sale, culminating in the acquisition by Herstal this week. Conditions of the sale included shearing the American branch from the British company.

It isn’t clear whether the huge Belgian arms company will maintain a presence in the sleep Sussex village of Beckley.



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Manroy Expands Rifle Production Factory

British gun maker Manroy has announced a new expansion costing £750,000 to enable it to make rifles to fill an order from an unnamed ‘existing customer’. According to the Scotsman, almost half of this expansion would be funded from an existing shareholder, Caledonian Holdings, in the form of a loan. The loan would be paid back by year end from the sale of weapons. Apparently the expansion and manufacture will take place at a facility at Slade Green, Kent, rather than the Manroy facility at Beckley, East Sussex.

The company does not publicly identify its customers, (other than UK MOD)  and British law appears to permit it to maintain secrecy, even though the sale of weapons has serious public policy implications for Britain. Manroy attempted to sell military hardware to the Qadaffi regime in Libya, until the Arab Spring caused the UK government to withdraw support from the Libyan dictator, who was subsequently deposed and assassinated.

Manroy states that it only sells weapons to countries approved by the UK government, but its growth strategy was hurt by the Arab Spring, which caused the UK government to shorten the list of Middle Eastern and African countries to which it would approve arms exports.

The owners of Manroy have been seeking a buyer for the company. It appears that only talks with Belgian company Herstal remain active.

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Sussex machine gun maker up for sale

The owners of Sussex based arms company Manroy Engineering have apparently put the company up for sale. Manroy Engineering is the Beckley, East Sussex manufacturer of heavy machine guns and other military equipment. Manley was formerly a small engineering company that made heavy .50 calibre  machine guns for the UK military. But a few years ago the company was purchased by new owners who had plans for expansion. This coincided with the policy of the new Conservative government that wanted to increase arms sales and was willing to expand its export permit system to authoritarian countries previously embargoed. This policy ran full tilt into the Arab Spring and the British public became aware that many of the intended new markets for UK arms were indeed repressive dictators. The plan to sell arms to dictators was scaled back. No doubt this revised policy also affected the growth plans of the new owners of Manroy.

Manroy was directly affected when it was revealed that Manroy and elements of the UK government had been trying to sell sniper rifles to the Qaddafi government at the time just before the dictator was deposed by his own people with the help of other elements of the UK government.

Press reports suggest that Manroy is considering takeover proposals from two companies, (US Ordnance having dropped out).  Market reports suggest that the 14 million pound company hasn’t been very profitable, with losses most years since it was taken public.

Baretta is one of the named suitors. The Italian company is a major producer of small arms.

FN Herstal is the other. (Watch their bloodless machine gun video here)  Herstal is Europe’s largest exporter of military arms, and owner of such American firearms brands as Winchester and Browning. Herstal already makes a heavy machine gun similar to the one made by Manroy. FN Herstal is 100% owned by the Walloon region of the Belgian government.

It isn’t clear whether a purchaser would keep the manufacturing facilities at Beckley, or whether they would be only interested in the machinery or intellectual property of the company. None of this information appears to be in the public record.

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Machine gun manufacturer Manroy declared losses

UK manufacturer of machine guns Manroy Engineering suffered financial losses last year, and stock prices have declined by more than 30% since last August. Manroy blamed startup and relocation costs of its US arm for part of the loss.

Beckley, East Sussex based Manroy started an ambitious plan to expand the range of countries it sold its machine guns to, but may have been thwarted when the UK suddenly reduced the number of countries it was willing to grant export licenses for.

It was also reported that Manroy was in the midst of negotiations with officials of Libyan dictator Mohamar Gadaffi, when the UK suddenly launched a war against Gadaffi. Up to then the UK government had been actively promoting arms sales to Libya. Afraid to be accused of gross hypocrisy, Britain`s government quickly cancelled export permission for several authoritarian countries, including Libya.

Manroy also blamed past losses and failure to meet expectations on a major export order from an existing customer, that has yet to be confirmed. Nor has the ‘existing customer’ been identified.

Manroy’s key product is the .50 calibre heavy machine gun, which it has provided to the UK MOD for many years. Manroy’s advertising is very heavy with technology and steel, but very short on photos of the blood, gore, and carnage created by use of these weapons. (I searched online for photos of .50 calibre bullet wounds, but the results were so alarming I decided not to link to them. Use your imagination, if you have the stomach).

To help stop the proliferation of small arms consider supporting Campaign Against the Arms Trade.

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If Manroy Didn’t Sell Machine Guns to Libya, Who DID They Sell Them To?

Reuters reports British machine gun maker Manroy Engineering has denied that Libya is the customer for £1.3 million in spare parts that Manroy announced recently to buoy its stock offering on the AIM stock exchange. Manroy has recently sold £6 million worth of M2 heavy machine guns to an unnamed ‘Middle Eastern country’.

While Manroy denies that that country is Libya, it declines to disclose the actual customer, only stating that it does not sell weapons to regimes in the region who are ’embargoed’ by the UK government. From its report of its 2011 Annual General Meeting:

The Board notes the press report on 17 March 2011 concerning the recent turmoil in the Middle East and North Africa. The Board states categorically that the Company has never undertaken any arms sales to Libya or to other embargoed countries in the region. Manroy prides itself as having been a key supplier to the UK MoD for 25 years. Manroy adheres strictly to UK legislation concerning the sale of armaments and weapons to foreign countries and governments. Additionally, where the Company sells any of its products overseas, such sales are undertaken in strict adherence to UK Government export regulations and approvals and are only undertaken after all appropriate UK Government licences have been granted.

Which begs the question ‘Who did they sell them to?’

Certainly Israel is a potential customer, as Israel was in the market for a ‘lighter’ machine gun in 2009, as reported on Israel Military Net blog.

What public interest is served by keeping Manroy’s sales secret?

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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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