A year’s a long time in digger manufacturing, someone might have said. Well, probably not, but if they had they would have been right.
Early in 2008 Staffordshire-based JCB was celebrating its most successful year ever, was collecting yet more Queen’s Awards, and was moving into a new £40 million factory.
But later in the year the company reported a rapid decline in business as a result of the downturn in the construction industry, and announced job losses. Employees voted for a shorter working week in order to reduce the number of redundancies necessary.
JCB’s pre-tax profits in 2007 were £187 million – 25 per cent up on the previous year - making it the most successful year in the company’s 62 year history. Machine sales rose to more than 72,000 – another record – and turnover reached a new peak of £2.25 billion. It’s these impressive improvements that are responsible for our upward valuation of Sir Anthony Bamford’s family fortune.
JCB maintained its long tradition of success in the Queen’s Awards for Enterprise with two of its companies collecting awards ion the International Trade section. The Rocester-based Backhoe Loader business unit and Uttoxeter-based JCB Service each received the accolade, adding to the three awards JCB collected the previous year.
JCB also completed the first phase of its move to a new purpose-built Heavy Products factory next to the A50 at Uttoxeter which will allow the company to grow its tracked and wheeled excavator business when global construction markets have recovered from the current downturn.
That downturn has cost JCB dear, with its forecast production levels dropping 20 per cent and planned sales growth under pressure. Rising raw material costs haven’t helped.
Sir Anthony and his wife Lady Carole Bamford have a £24 million house in Chelsea and a 1500 acre estate in near Stow-on-the Wold where Lady Bamford also runs Daylesford Organics. The ex-air hostess, who ranked fourth in Tatler’s list of the world’s most powerful blondes, founded the company six years ago and it is now one of the country’s largest working organic farms, with a long list of celebrity customers. She also has shops in Pimilico, Notting Hill and Gloucestershire. The Bamfords also own the 3000 acre Wootton estate in Staffordshire.
The Bamford’s fortune has been amassed through hard work and business acumen, which began n 1945 when Joseph Cyril Bamford started his business in a small garage in Rocester which prospered on the back of the post-war building boom. Now it sells 278 different products in 150 countries worldwide, and most of its growth has come from emerging markets including India, Poland, Russia, Bulgaria, Romania and South America. The company’s share of the world construction equipment market is around 12 per cent.