Dunedin has sold WFEL, the world leader in mobile tactical military bridging, to KMW, a German land defence systems provider. The sale has realised a multiple of 2.4x for Dunedin.
Under Dunedin’s ownership WFEL has seen significant growth in sales, predominantly exports, increasing by nearly 70% to £36.2 million in the year ended December 2011. Employee numbers have increased by around 15% to 228 over this period.
WFEL manufactures high specification, high functionality, complex mobile bridging systems for use in military and disaster relief scenarios. WFEL’s expertise – built on a century of UK engineering excellence and innovation – includes concept design, prototype manufacture and full scale production of a range of rapidly-deployable, modern bridging systems.
WFEL’s most recent product is the Dry Support Bridge (“DSB”), which it supplies to the US Department of Defence under a $500m contract. WFEL recently secured a £57m contract for the supply of DSB’s to Switzerland.
WFEL also provides value-added inspection, repair and maintenance; spares; and training services, both in the field and at its UK-based engineering site in Stockport, where it employs a team of highly-skilled engineers and support staff. In addition, WFEL is the sole supplier of specialist consumable steel rods to British Nuclear Fuels for use in Gas Cooled Nuclear Reactors.
Dougal Bennett, a partner at Dunedin who sat on the board of WFEL, said: “WFEL is an example of UK manufacturing at its best. In the last five years the company has seen significant international growth and enters KMW’s ownership with an enviable long-term order book. This has been achieved on the back of the excellent engineering and service reputation held by the company and delivered by the WFEL management team. Important new contracts have been won in markets as diverse as Switzerland, Turkey and Indonesia. Further exciting new opportunities exist in Asia and South America in particular.”
“WFEL has proven to be a real hidden champion of a business, with a market leading product, world leading engineering skills and a highly respected management team. We would like to wish the team and employees all success for the future and thank them for their dedication and hard work during Dunedin’s period of ownership.”
Ian Wilson, Chief Executive of WFEL, said: “Dunedin’s investment in WFEL, both financial and operational, has been invaluable in helping the company to grow to where it is now. Together, we have enhanced and expanded WFEL’s international sales and marketing reach; secured significant new contracts; and developed a strong and growing spares and refurbishment revenue stream.
“Through their extensive industrial network, Dunedin was able to introduce high calibre, experienced board members who have helped to drive the business forward. WFEL now has some very exciting opportunities open to it and we much look forward to pursuing these for the benefit of our new owners, KMW.”