Monday, 15 November 2010

Boycott Hornby, Motability and Umeco

Neil Johnson signed the offending letter as Chairman of Umeco, but he is also the Chairman of Hornby and Motability.


Hornby is a household name and is famous as the UK brand leader in the model railway hobby. All Hornby manufacture was moved to China in 1995, losing more British jobs.


Motability Operations is a not-for-profit company that runs the Motability Car Scheme, and more recently, the Powered Wheelchair and Scooter Scheme. The largest fleet operator in the UK and the biggest supplier of used cars to the trade, we are owned by the major banks: Barclays Bank plc, Lloyds Group plc, HSBC Bank plc and Royal Bank of Scotland plc.

Motability sell over 145,000 used cars a year. The number of cars they purchase each year accounts for no less than six per cent of all the new cars sold in the UK.


Another tricky one to boycott directly as their supply chain does not involve retail sales, but like ARM Holdings, Umeco can be boycotted through a boycott of the companies they supply. So a significant part of this blog describes Umeco's relationship with other companies. As has become standard practice for this blog, companies and brands to be boycotted are shown in bold.

Umeco describe themselves as 'a leading provider of value-added distribution and supply chain management services, and composite materials primarily to the aerospace and defence, automotive and motorsport and wind turbine industries'.

Umeco is managed through two business streams:-

Umeco Composites - comprises a Structural Materials business and a Process Materials business. With seven operating units located throughout the UK, Europe and the US, it provides a range of services, products, design expertise and tooling solutions principally to the aerospace market and other users of advanced composite materials.

Customers include Boeing, Airbus, BAE Systems, manufacturers of wind turbine blades, a number of manufacturers of high performance super cars and Formula 1 teams.

Umeco Supply Chain - a leading international provider of value-added distribution and supply chain outsourcing services to customers in the aerospace & defence market. With its specialisation in the supply of small and medium value components and sophisticated IT systems, its growing global customer base can enjoy significant operational, cost and working capital benefits. The Supply Chain businesses trade globally as Pattonair.

Customers include Rolls-Royce plc, BAE Systems, Safran Group, Parker Aerospace, Goodrich, Thales Aerospace, Turbomeca, ATK, Lockheed Martin and the US Department of Defense.

Umeco started in 1917 with the name University Motor and Engineering Company Limited, and it is an acronym of this title that is the source of the Umeco name. For many years the Group traded as a motor vehicle distributor in the south of England, before acquiring various businesses involved in the electrical and marine industries.

In 1983, Umeco made its first entry into the aerospace sector when it acquired Fluid Transfer Limited, a manufacturer of aircraft refuelling equipment. This was followed in 1987 by the acquisition of Pattonair, a specialist distributor of components to the aerospace sector. With a developing specialisation in the aerospace sector, the businesses involved in other industrial sectors were gradually disposed of.

During the 1990s, increasingly sophisticated services began to be offered to aerospace customers as expectations of service grew beyond the basic role of a distributor. The Group expanded its capabilities in order to provide direct line feed, kitting and service provider facilities.

In addition to acquisitions, significant growth has been achieved, most notably through the long term contract with Rolls-Royce plc originally signed in November 1999. Now extended, the contract will now run until December 2015. Under this contract, the Group provides a dedicated logistics service to manage the supply of a wide range of components to Rolls-Royce plc's European aerospace operations. Recent extensions to the contract, including that signed in November 2007, have led to a broader range of parts and services being supplied to Rolls-Royce plc.

Umeco's Supply Chain activities were expanded in November 2005 through the acquisition of Provest (now renamed Pattonair), based in Italy. This acquisition was funded by a 4 for 9 rights issue, which raised £48.4 million, net of expenses. In France, Pattonair announced major long term contracts with Thales and Turbomeca in December 2006 and February 2007 respectively.

More recently, in November 2008 Pattonair in North America announced it had secured a long term contract with ATK.

In March 1999, Aerovac was acquired and provided the Group with its first composites activity, focused principally on the European composite market. Coverage of the global composites market was enhanced in September 2000 with the acquisition of Richmond. In May 2004, the Group completed the acquisition of ACG, a leading supplier of advanced composite materials to the motorsport, automotive and aerospace & defence sectors with manufacturing operations in the UK and the US.

In August 2007, the Group acquired JD Lincoln. Based at two sites in California, JD Lincoln formulates and manufactures a range of pre-preg materials primarily used by aerospace tier 2 suppliers for the manufacture of composite interior structures of commercial aircraft.

In December 2008, IPM was acquired. Based in Northern Italy, IPM is a leading manufacturer of vacuum bagging films for the composites industry. Aerovac and Richmond are major customers for IPM, who onward supply to the rapidly growing wind energy market.

During the year to March 2008, Umeco undertook a strategic review as a result of which the Board decided to focus the Group on its larger and faster growing business activities of Composites and Supply Chain. This led to the divestment in November 2007 of the Group's smallest business stream, Repair & Overhaul; and, in March 2008, of the Group's aerospace chemicals distribution businesses. The cash consideration received from this divestment programme was £49.0 million.

In August 2009 Brian McGowan retired as Chairman and in October Neil Johnson was appointed to replace him.
Neil Johnson - UmecoNeil Anthony Johnson, OBE has a long and complex history of board room operations. He started his business career in the engineering and motor industry. He served as a Director at Jaguar, Land Rover and Rover Group.

He was the Chief Executive Officer for the RAC Holdings from 1994 to 1999.

He was also the Managing Director of European Automotive Operations for British Aerospace.

He has been the Non-Executive Chairman of Hornby PLC since December 22, 2000.

He is currently Chairman of Motability Finance Limited (MFL) and Motability Operations Group (a financial business owned by the UK clearing banks).

He was the Chairman of Autologic Holdings Plc from May 25, 2006 to October 2007.

He was Chairman of RSM Tenon Group plc (formerly, Tenon Group PLC) until December 5, 2006.

He has been a Non Executive Director of Hornby plc. since July 1, 1998 and UMECO PLC since October 19, 2009.

He served as Senior Independent Non-Executive Director of Autologic Holdings Plc from January 23, 2006 to October 2007.

He served as a Director of Tenon Group plc and RSM Tenon Group plc. He served as a Director of Tenon Ltd.

In the 1980's he was seconded to the Ministry of Defence for a Command Appointment. He also directed the Engineering Employers Federation ("EEF") for a term of office in the early 1990's.

Until January 2010, he was a Director of Cybit Holdings Plc.

He has been Chairman of UMECO PLC since October 19, 2009 when he left Promethean World PLC and his 2009 pay and stock option package of £306,745 (source: Business Week).

He is also a member of a Ministry of Defence Advisory Board and an 'Independent' Member of the Metropolitan Police Authority where in 2009/10 he attended 12 out of 35 meetings he was due to attend. His claims of 'Independence' will be tarnished by his public support for the financial policies of George Osborne.

He was HM Representative Deputy Lieutenant for the City of Westminster for fourteen years until 2007, and also served for five years as a member of the Prime Minister’s Advisory Panel for the Citizen’s Charter.

On 18th October, Neil Johnson signed an open letter calling on the Chancellor to continue the coalition government's plans to reduce the public finance deficit in one term, plans which included swingeing cuts on the poorest members of society and which risk pushing this country into a double-dip recession, the likes of which has not been seen since the last time the tories took power and tanked the economy in the early 80's.

For this reason Neil Johnson is considered to be a fully signed up member of the Big Business Society and we urge people to boycott Hornby, Motability Operations Group and Umeco through their customer like Rolls-Royce.

NOTE: An earlier version of the post stated the Hornby also owned the Meccano brand. Meccano have been in touch with me and assured me that this is not the case. I apologise for this error which was caused by Meccano appearing prominently on the Hornby corporate website and my misinterpretation of this. Although Meccano was devised by Frank Hornby, of the Hornby Brand Meccano became a separate company some time in the past ans has no connection with Neil Johnson. The call to boycott Meccano is therefore rescinded.

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