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26 January, 2006 - 09:08 By Staff Reporter

LPA hopes to take the ‘tube’ in fast track to fresh success

A strong order book, good opportunities for the upgrade of London tube trains and a fresh push in LED markets have been flagged up by Saffron Walden company LPA Group, a lighting, power and electronics system manufacturer and distributor.A strong order book, good opportunities for the upgrade of London tube trains and a fresh push in LED markets have been flagged up by Saffron Walden company LPA Group, a lighting, power and electronics system manufacturer and distributor.

It modestly increased pre-tax profits to £176,000 (2004: £143,000) for the year ended September 30 on turnover unchanged at £13.5m.

LPA says its order book was up 12 per cent despite a delay in the award of some contracts and that cashflow was strong.

Following a first contract win in Asia, LPA has identified opportunities for substantial further business there and in Europe.

Chief executive Peter Pollock, said: “Orders entered have exceeded sales for the third successive year and the long term order book continues to grow, securing the future for the group.”

He said LPA was responding to the challenges of globalisation and low cost country sourcing, which would affect all manufacturing. “We expect that the nature of our business will change significantly over the next few years,” he said.

“We have a leading position in the application of LED technology for internal passenger train and emergency lighting. We intend to build on this strength by developing LED applications in other markets.

“We believe that LED application technology presents an important opportunity for the group and we are increasing our investment accordingly.”

Disappointing trading conditions at the start of the new fiscal year have nudged the share price slightly downwards but chairman Michael Rusch said prospects were bright.

The group remains the leading supplier of auxiliary battery power systems, inter-vehicle electrical connection systems and lighting systems for the UK rail vehicle building and refurbishment industry.

Despite upheaval in Britain’s railway industry, half the fleet of trains is now less than 10 years old.

The investment in new vehicles, which has been satisfied from suppliers in the UK as well as suppliers from Europe, has slowed.

Immediate UK prospects will be concentrated on London Underground, high speed train refurbishment, the Channel Tunnel rail link as well as some infill to existing fleets of diesel multiple unit and electric multiple unit trains.

LPA has studied the China market and concluded that until the cost of maintenance increases, there is little prospect for its high quality, high reliability, and higher initial cost products.

Rusch said: “We have been selected for our first major contract for new build equipment in Taiwan.

“This is giving us useful exposure in the region where we continue to secure work in Australia, Hong Kong, Singa-pore, and Japan, as well as other markets such as South Africa.”

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