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March 31, 2014 1:34 pm
Brush, part of British engineering group Melrose, has opened an office in Abu Dhabi to recruit engineers from India after struggling to find the skills in Europe.
The company, which makes turbogenerators that help power the Las Vegas Strip and were used at the Sochi Olympics, has set up the office to give it increased access to skilled foreign engineers needed to produce its high-value machines.
“It’s incredibly difficult to recruit the resource we need in Europe given the highly specialised nature of some of our engineering,” said Blair Illingworth, chief executive.
The Loughborough-based company – which employs 970 people in the UK and exports about 95 per cent of its output – makes complex turbogenerators costing up to £2m each for customers including Siemens, Rolls-Royce and General Electric. Brush employs 2,700 people and has factories in the Netherlands and Czech Republic.
Mr Illingworth said immigration rules made it difficult to employ engineers from the Indian subcontinent in the UK. It comes amid a growing call by British businesses for visa restrictions to be eased for highly skilled workers such as engineers to address skills shortages.
Brush’s Abu Dhabi office will employ 10 engineers this year in the emirate, with the capacity to increase to 30. It will use this office and its apprenticeship scheme to find its next generation of engineers, said Mr Illingworth.
Brush, which last year had sales of £350m, is owned by Melrose, the FTSE 100 engineering turnround specialist, following its purchase of FKI, a diversified engineering group, for just under £1bn in 2008.
Melrose operates a private equity-like business model, buying industrial companies, improving their performance and selling them off within three to five years at a profit. While it has sold the majority of businesses that made up FKI, just two remain: Brush and Bridon.
Both have seen revenues fall in 2013, although Simon Peckham, chief executive of Melrose, believes the long-term dynamics for Brush are “great”.
“It serves generators primarily into the aero-derivative gas turbine market, and if you had to pick a market to be in, it’s that one,” he said at the group’s results in March.
Brush has recently invested £32m to open its first factory in China. The plant, due to open early next year, will employ 250 people and help the company fulfil a six-year contract with GE to provide turbogenerators for its Chinese joint venture.
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