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April 2016

Plot 1 LET

A Midland entrepreneur is setting up his latest venture at IM Properties' flagship Birch Coppice Business Park - and shipping 14 container-loads of hi-tech kit all the way from Korea.

Jim Griffin's Rugby-based Autins Group has taken just over 47,500 sq ft of industrial space, which is now being fitted out for his new Solar Non-Woven Ltd business.

The company specialises in supplying advanced insulation to manage noise and heat emissions for many of the world's leading automotive marques, and the new company will manufacture a new type of micro-fibre insulation never previously used outside Korea.

“It's a remarkable product, it's lighter and thinner than anything available, but it out-performs everything currently on the market,” says Griffin.

“The commercial potential was huge, not just for automotive, but for many other sectors, including agriculture, apparel and aerospace, so after months of discussions, we are delighted that the Korean company which invented this material has granted us a licence to manufacture and sell it in Europe.”

The first production line alone has meant a £4m investment, and the power requirements are so great that IMP is constructing a special two mega-watt sub-station alongside his unit. The 14 containers were needed to bring the special manufacturing kit on its 5,500-mile journey from Korea.

For Griffin, it's the latest growth phase for Autins, which expects to hit turnover of £25m in the current financial year, and numbers Aston Martin, Bentley, BMW, JLR, Mercedes-Benz, Nissan, Toyota, Volvo and VW among the customers, which rely on its innovative products.

For IM Properties (IMP), it's a welcome confirmation of the wisdom of its decision to launch a £50m investment programme last September to add 500,000 sq ft of speculative industrial space to its 400-acre Birch Coppice scheme located just half a mile from Junction 10 of the M42, and at The Hub, on the outskirts of Birmingham.

Kevin Ashfield, the group's UK development director, says the unit taken by Solar Non-Woven is the first of five units being brought forward to tackle the dearth of high-quality industrial space across the Midlands.

“The old adage about speculating in order to accumulate is never truer than in property development, and the supply of available space in this region has been contracting since the recession,” he says.

“It was obviously a big decision to invest £50m on a speculative basis, but our long-term strategy is all about investing for future returns, and we were confident that as these units came forward, there would be significant interest.

“Equally, it's crucial to make sure a range of sizes are available to suit the needs of occupiers with different requirements, so whilst this unit is 47,250 sq ft, the largest of the five will be 282,000 sq ft.

“Autins have signed a 15-year lease, which is great for us, and now we are focusing on the next two units at Birch Coppice. We started the necessary infrastructure works in September 2015, and I'd expect both units to reach practical completion in July and August 2016. “

The agents for Birch Coppice are CBRE, Colliers International and Eagleton & Co.

Situated in a prime location at the heart of the UK, the 400 acre Birch Coppice Business Park offers a range of high-class design and build opportunities, supported by outstanding connectivity inlcuding a rail terminal (BIFT) providing access to the UK’s rail infrastructure.

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