A collapse in confidence, the decline in sales in emerging markets and a reluctance by banks to fund machine purchases have done Sir Anthony Bamford’s JCB a lot of damage.
In 2007, Staffordshire-based JCB was celebrating its most successful year ever in its 64-year history, with profits pushing £200 million.
But since then things have changed dramatically with production 75 per cent down in the early part of 2009 and the loss of more than 1,500 jobs across its operations.
The company – the world’s third largest construction equipment brand – managed to stay in the black in 2008, but pre-tax profits tumbled to £39 million from its 2007 high of £187 million.
A rare bright spot was the sixth successive year of growth for JCB Agriculture with sales up 14 per cent.
The decline in sales in the global construction equipment market has had an inevitable effect on the value of the company, and therefore the value of Sir Anthony Bamford’s fortune. He is one of the big losers in this year’s Rich List, though we estimate he has maintained his billionaire status.
But things haven’t all been doom and gloom at JCB, and with a robustness shown by Sir Anthony’s father and company founder Joe Bamford, planning for the future has never been more intense and optimistic.
The Duke of York opened the new Heavy Products factory in Uttoxeter – a 450,000 sq ft facility with the capability to build 8,000 machines a year. While he was there, the Duke presented JCB with a Queens Award for Enterprise.
And work is well advanced on the £22 million JCB Academy. Based in the Grade II listed Tutbury Mill in Rocester, the academy – a project of prime importance for Sir Anthony – will train the engineers of the future.
The company’s international credentials have received a further boost with the opening of new assembly plant in Brazil.
Sir Anthony and his wife Lady Carole Bamford have a £24 million house in Chelsea and a 1,500 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 seven years ago and it is now one of the country’s largest working organic farms, with a long list of celebrity customers. She counts Liz Hurley, David Cameron, Viscount Linley and Jeremy Clarkson among her regulars.
She also has shops in Pimilico, Notting Hill and Gloucestershire. The Bamfords also own the 3,000 acre Wootton estate in Staffordshire.
The Bamford’s road to fame and fortune began in 1945 when Joseph Cyril Bamford built his first farm trailer in a small garage in Rocester. Now it sells more than 300 different products in 150 countries worldwide built in 18 factories. The company’s share of the world construction equipment market is around 10.8 per cent.