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Jubilee Clips increases profits 10-fold after closing German warehouse operation

By Chris Price

Pre-tax profits increased 10-fold at clamp manufacturer Jubilee Clips after it closed its warehouse operations in Germany.

Turnover actually fell by 2% to £5m last year as the Gillingham firm began selling goods through distributors rather than on its own premises in the EU.

However, it increased profit before tax to £205,000 as it enjoyed reduced warehouse, despatching and logistics costs. Operating profits quadrupled to £242,000.

Jubilee CLips managing director Ian Jennings, left, and factory manager Bob Letchford

Jubilee CLips managing director Ian Jennings, left, and factory manager Bob Letchford

Managing director Ian Jennings said: “We had a warehouse in Germany for a long time and its volume didn’t justify the costs.”

The improvement in finances was bittersweet for Mr Jennings after the closure led to redundancies in the UK at the end of 2015.

The company cut staff numbers from about 110 in 2015 to nearer 90 last year.

He said: “It was the worst thing that has ever happened in my life. It shows the impact of politics.

"George Osborne is the worst thing that has ever happened to this country.

"We were forced by his policies, which pushed up labour costs disproportionately.

"George Osborne is the worst thing that has ever happened to this country. We were forced by his policies, which pushed up labour costs disproportionately..." - Ian Jennings, Jubilee Clips

"That wage pressure, combined with pension expenses and pushing up employers’ national insurance contributions, was too much.”

Mr Jennings is unconcerned about potential trade tariffs being imposed by the EU after Brexit.

The company expects a steady growth in income thanks to the favourable exchange rate since the referendum.

Its gross profit margin increased from 28% to 30%.

Mr Jennings said: “The largest element which has improved our margin was the Brexit vote. The exchange rate has been very good for exporters.

“This year we will have 6-7% growth thanks to the exchange rate, organic increases in sales and a higher volume of exports.

Jubilee Clips manufactures metallic bands invented and patented by Ian Jennings' grandfather Commander Lumley Robinson

Jubilee Clips manufactures metallic bands invented and patented by Ian Jennings' grandfather Commander Lumley Robinson

“We will make gains in northern Europe and have new markets in South Korea. The US is also a good growth market for us.

“We continue to have strong markets in the Middle East and Japan, where we export more than half of what we make.

"Most of our exports are outside the EU. We have no intention of following anyone else to start manufacturing abroad.

"About 96% of our sales revenues comes from products made in the UK.”

"We have no intention of following anyone else to start manufacturing abroad..." - Ian Jennings, Jubilee Clips

Jubilee Clips has been redeveloping one of its old sites in Medway, which it vacated in 2007.

It had planned to sell the land as it consolidated the business a decade ago but was unable to find a buyer when the credit crunch took hold.

The failure to sell has become a piece of good fortune after it acquired the Birmingham production facility of Elms Lightning Fasteners in 2013.

It aims to create more jobs in Kent as it opens parts of the Midlands operation in the county.

Mr Jennings said: “It has four staff and two are retirement age. We will see how it runs here and take a view on it. It depends on the volumes.”

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