Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

Bodycote

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1923 The Bodycote family founded a textile company, G. R. Bodycote Ltd, in Hinckley, Leicester

1951 The Bodycote family operated three knitwear factories in the Leicester area

1969 Became part of the Slater Walker group and the Bodycote family textile companies were spun off by Slater Walker plc, becoming Bodycote International with Joe Dwek as Chairman.

By 1972, Bodycote's group turnover was £15.4 million with a profit of £1.2 million; well above average for the textile industry at that time. A succession of acquisitions including several UK listed companies and a leading Dutch clothing manufacturer, with German and Swedish subsidiaries, enabled the group to become European niche market leader in textile industry sectors, offering fabric finishing, acrylic spinning, blanket weaving and producing silk, household textiles, workwear and safety products.

In 1973 all of the Group's companies were spun off by Slater Walker plc, becoming Bodycote International.

During the 1970s Bodycote the importance of health and safety at work was recognised. Bodycote responded by the organic growth of its specialist subsidiary companies, producing safety equipment, workwear, bullet proof and flame retardant materials. However, overseas competition became more intense and combined with the first oil shock, some subsidiaries became unviable causing an acceleration in their disposal. Bodycote managed to sustain profit margins by the introduction of new technology however, the cost of production in Europe kept increasing and low-cost competition could not be restrained by technology alone. By the late 1970s, it was clear that an entirely new strategy for Bodycote's development was urgently required.

1979 Decision to reconstruct the Group to move from textile manufacturing toward service industries. Bodycote acquired the heat treatment company, Blandburgh of Macclesfield.

In 1980 the company moved into metallurgical coatings by acquiring Zinc Alloy Rust Proofing, whose plants in the North, Midlands and Wales provided the unique Sherardizing service and zinc electroplating.

The company’s strategy for future growth was controlled by John Chesworth, a director of Blandburgh, who joined the Bodycote board in 1981 and became Group Managing Director of Bodycote in 1993.

1983 Acquired Nemo Heat Treatments

Shortly after these acquisitions, the heat treatment division of Bodycote was unified, as Blandburgh Nemo

Expansion continued through greenfield facilities at Corby, Chard, Birmingham and Macclesfield and further acquisitions in the UK.

1990 Bodycote acquired Metallurgical Testing Services (MTS) of Edinburgh, Scotland from Murray International plc

In 1991, Bodycote acquired Chesterfield based HIP and Infutec from Marshalls plc. This was a bold step into Hot Isostatic Pressing (HIP), an emerging technology, the markets for which had still to be developed, but which benefited from market synergy with vacuum heat treatment services.

1992 The North American company Industrial Materials Technology Inc. (IMT) was acquired

1997 The last of the textile and packaging companies were sold. Production commenced at the fully automated Macclesfield heat treatment plant and the new Bodycote International plc headquarters opened in Macclesfield.

In September 1996 Bodycote acquired seven plants in USA and Canada with Hinderliter Heat Treating and joining Bodycote with this acquisition was a key contributor to Bodycote’s future, John Hubbard, who became CEO in 2002.

In 1997 Bodycote expanded its heat treatment presence into the Nordic countries by acquiring the 24 plants of Brukens Thermotreat AB.

The acquisition of Hauzer BV was also completed, thus making the Group a major player in the PVD coatings field.

Later that year Bodycote acquired the HIT Group of France

The acquisition in January 2001 of Lindberg, the long established market leader for thermal processing services in the USA, saw Bodycote achieve its medium-term strategy of a North American group of 60 plants.

As a result of an in-depth strategic review early in 2008, the Board decided to focus the Group on its core thermal processing operations and dispose of the testing business, which expanded considerably in recent years. The ensuing auction process resulted in the sale of the testing business in October 2008. The Board also initiated a major reorganisation of the remaining thermal processing activities to achieve a slimmer fixed cost base and focus on higher value added services.


See Also

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Sources of Information

  • [1] Bodycote web site