LONDON - Laird Group ilc is expanding its body-seals capacity in France and Spain. It has also bought a rubber-metal bonding specialist in Italy to keep pace with increased orders from automotive customers.
The group's sales have mainly been in Europe, said Chairman John Gardiner, but he wants Laird to become international. The group is looking at opportunities in the US and China.
Laird spent more than £60 million ($98 million) on expansion and acquisitions last year, while increasing r&d spending 20 percent to £12 million. Sales rose nearly 12 percent to £993 million.
Laird also spent £4 million last year to expand its sealing systems plant in Fruchet Le Valasse, France. The investment followed new contracts for the Citroen ZX replacement this year, and for the next-generation Renault Clio in 1998.
At the same time, Laird's Draftex Iberia subsidiary has been outfitting a new factory near Barcelona, Spain. It supplies the Volkswagen Polo and Ford Fiesta. Production of body seals will start in the second half of 1997.
In the US, Draftex Inc. will start production in the autumn at its $50 million, 40,000-square-meter body and window seals plant in Salisbury, North Carolina.