Improved productivity, competitive pricing, low labor costs and a skilled work force in Britain are swinging new European auto parts business the way of British custom molders and mold makers.
A number of hopeful parts producers, among them injection and blow molders and mold makers, met with purchasing managers from Renault and have been short-listed after visiting the Boulogn, France-based firm.
The Birmingham (England) Chamber of Commerce arranged initial meetings during the past two years. A Renault U.K. spokesman said the firm has invited 45 British parts suppliers to France for more advanced talks in that time.
Renault, which has an annual component purchasing budget of 60 billion French francs ($10.8 billion), is looking for suppliers in a number of countries outside France, wherever ``it makes commercial sense,'' the spokesman said.
Webster Mouldings Ltd., an injection molder and mold maker in Oldbury, England, was invited to Renault in October and now awaits the chance to bid for work.
Webster designs and builds molds for interior trim, injection molds auto parts, including grilles for Rolls-Royce cars, and forms large glass-reinforced parts for trucks. Sales director Peter Ellis said 95 percent of its work is for the vehicle industry.
Ellis said the company, which has annual sales of £5 million ($8.1 million), exports about a third of its production. It has tried unsuccessfully to sell to the French in the past and partly blames its lack of an agent in France and French speakers in Oldbury.
Ellis believes that his company now stands a good chance of getting Renault orders.
``We are led to believe that we've been asked back because our facility meets all their criteria. We are waiting for an opportunity to quote,'' he said.
According to the Birmingham chamber, other British plastics companies at advanced stages of negotiation with Renault include: Bridgtown Industries Ltd., a Cannock-based interior trim molder and polyurethane specialist; Blowspeed Ltd., a Ramsgate-based blow molder; and Magna Interior Systems of Lenham.