An Ellesmere Port entrepreneur has snapped up a well known Merseyside maritime firm.
Businessman and former member of the Armed Forces Jonathan Willoughby, 46, has bought Bootle-based Wren Industrial & Marine Fabrications.
The company, run for 27 years by husband and wife team David and Helen Wren, specialises in manufacturing doors, windows and hatches for ships and boats as well as welding and fabrication services mainly in the maritime field.
Wren’s clients include the Royal Navy, the Royal Fleet Auxiliary and ferry operators Stena and the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company.
Wren’s doors can be found on the Royal Yacht Britannia while its engineering services have been deployed making canisters for Richard Branson’s hot air balloon and helping to build clock towers on the Emmerdale TV set.
Mr Willoughby, who runs welding and fabrication company Yorkwall Engineering on Merseyton Road, said that with David and Helen looking to step down the time was right to buy Wren Industrial and take it to the next level aiming to double its £1m turnover in the next 12 months.
“Wren has a really strong reputation in the maritime industry, particularly on Merseyside, for the quality of its work and its dedication to customer service,” said Jonathan.
“My aim is to now build on that bedrock and grow Wren’s client base and brand nationally and internationally. Key to that growth drive will be clearly explaining to the marketplace what Wren can do.
“Yes we specialise in making water-tight and fire-rated doors, windows and hatches for ships but we are so much more than that. We have the expertise to undertake virtually any welding and fabrication job on any type of vessel.
“Wren literally receives hundreds of orders a year for welding and fabrication works but we need to raise awareness of our expertise and capability to the wider UK maritime industry.
“We want to showcase our track record to more shipyards, ship management companies, shipping agents and insurance companies.”
He believes a major area for future growth is in engineering solutions.
“A key strength of Wren Industrial is its ability to find solutions to a wide range of welding and fabrication challenges,” explained Jonathan.
“That problem solving approach is hugely valued by our customers so much so that virtually all our current business is repeat work such is the degree of trust Wren has built with its customers.
“But to grow the company we have to communicate the quality of our work and facilities to a bigger audience. We have a very knowledgeable workforce of around 20 engineers who are Wren’s best selling point and springboard for growth.
“In addition we have a 6,000 sq ft workshop with a wide range of equipment enabling us to work with a variety of materials including carbon steel, stainless steel, copper, brass, aluminium and plastics.”
Jonathan, who has 25 years experience in the oil and gas sector, said the purchase of Wren Industrial is part of a wider growth strategy which will see him buy more complementary engineering companies eventually merging all into one new brand name.
“My existing company Yorkwall specialises in fabrication services for the petrochemical sector. Buying Wren Engineering diversifies our operations into maritime which helps protect and grow our group operations,” he said.
“This is a really exciting time for our team and we see the group on an upward trajectory with considerable potential for sustainable growth.”
He revealed the firm is planning more acquisitions over the next 12 months.