Automation company secures £5.5m loan to fund major JLR contract

A Midlands industrial automation specialist which has landed a major order from Jaguar Land Rover has secured a £5.5m loan from Frontier Development Capital (FDC) to support its working capital requirements for the project.

Expert Technologies Group has secured an eight-figure contract to create a ‘body in white’ robotic assembly system for a new luxury electric vehicle to be produced at JLR’s Solihull plant. The assembly system will be manufactured at Expert Technologies’ Coventry headquarters and is part of JLR’s plan to electrify production and invest £15bn over the next five years at its UK manufacturing sites.

Expert Technologies, which has created similar systems for JLR and other vehicle manufacturers in the past, is the largest industrial automation specialist in the UK, producing everything from specialist machinery to complete production lines. Established in 1972, the business was acquired by Angelo Luciano in 1998. Since then it has grown from 10 employees to around 300, of which 250 are based in its UK facilities in Coventry, Houghton-le-Spring and Widnes, and the remainder at its subsidiaries in the US and Slovakia.

The latest project is one of its largest to date, and follows a spate of contract wins in 2023 resulting in a record order book for the buiness. The company has also recently been awarded several Innovate UK grants to support the automotive industry’s move towards net zero. They include exploring the potential for magnetic bonding of adhesives, and the development of both high-strength aluminium battery enclosures and lightweight electric platforms to enhance the digital tool chain.

The latest project is the fourth which FDC has helped to fund since 2012. The £5.5m loan will supplement Expert Technologies’ existing £15m working capital fund to support projects in progress.

Angelo Luciano, CEO of Expert Technologies, said: “The company has seen record activity following the post Covid hangover of 2022. Electrification is driving new opportunities for our business, with the launch of new electric vehicles and with manufacturers themselves looking to invest in new plant to support the move to net-zero production.

“However with major projects of this type, it is essential to have the right finance package in place. FDC has been very supportive over the years. The funding they have provided has enabled us to take on larger contracts and helped to drive the growth of the business.”

The FDC finance has come from two of its funds under management, the Advanced Manufacturing Supply Chain Initiative Recycled Fund (AMSCIR) and the National Tooling Loan Fund. Andy GreenDiane Watt and Marie Kelly from FDC worked on the deal.

Marie Kelly, investment director at Frontier Development Capital, said: “Expert Technologies is an innovator in the field of manufacturing technology and in the coming years will play a key role in helping industry to move to net-zero production. The company has gone from strength in recent years. We are pleased to be supporting this latest project, which will help to support manufacturing jobs in the Midlands and position the business as a leader in intelligent manufacturing technology.”

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