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AP's name change drives business into a new era

Components supplier Automotive Products UK - better known as AP Borg & Beck - has changed its name to Automotive Products Driveline Technology following a multi-million pound buyout from AP Group.

Established for more than 70 years in the UK as a clutch systems manufacturer, APDT says the name change reflects the new ownership - backed by an international consortium of investors - and expanding horizons.

Exactly how much the buyout cost has not been made public. But the deal, brokered by managing director Andrew Richardson, includes technical and manufacturing facilities in Leamington Spa, where the company has been based since the 1920s, and a purpose-built factory near Bilbao in northern Spain. The total workforce is about 300 - 250 in the UK and the balance in Spain.

“We are doing so much more than just manufacturing clutches,” says Richardson. “We are deeply involved in the design and development of a critical sector of vehicles which takes in the whole driveline.”

Among APDT's long-standing aftermarket customers are Unipart and Delphi, while the original equipment sector supplies to prime names such as MG Rover, Land Rover, Honda, Volvo, Aston Martin and Ferrari as well as to commercial vehicle and marine manufacturers. It also has a strong technical partnership with the Japanese transmissions maker FCC.

Richardson says the company is “poised to move forward with a number of new contracts and technological leads”.

“Going back a number of years, the clutch had the prime task of transmitting power from engine to wheels,” says Richardson. “Today it is an integral part of a much more complex mechanical and electronic mechanism which plays a key part in making the cars of today so much more refined.”

In the 1990s, AP Borg & Beck employed 1600 people at two sites in Leamington Spa. The first redundancies were announced in March, 1997 and were followed by further job losses in spring 1999 after AP Group had pledged to invest £3m in the surviving Tachbrook Road factory for new manufacturing equipment, better design and testing facilities and computing improvements.

At the time Richardson pointed to the success of a sister operation in Ancona, Italy - AP Italia - as the model for streamlining. “While the redundancies are very regrettable, with the changes and investments and by learning from our Italian counterparts, I am confident we can return to growth,” he was quoted.

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