"Worcestershire engineering firm Froude Hofmann is boosting its research and development effort after it was bought as part of a £2.5 million deal.

The firm, which employs 230, was bought by Harris Watson from FKI, along with Bridon Fox Wire, a speciality wire manufacturer from Stocksbridge, near Sheffield.

Purchaser Harris Watson, a Birmingham-based industrial finance group, has pledged to invest in Froude Hofmann, which employs the bulk of its staff in Worcester.

The investment will see Froude triple its R&D budget and increase the number of design engineers by 12.

As part of its focus on product-development, Froude Hofmann is undertaking an expansion of its engineering capability at all its sites, including its UK factory at Worcester where it employs 150 people.

Froude Hofmann, which also has sites near Hanover in Germany, Detroit in the US, and Shanghai, produces test equipment for the automotive and gas-turbine industries.

Customers of the company, which has sales of around £20 million, include Ford, VW, Hyundai and General Motors.

As well as automotive testing equipment, the firm produces testing gear for aerospace with customers including Rolls-Royce, Pratt & Whitney and General Electric.

Managing director Richard Guest said: "This deal will make a significant difference. We will be a core business for Harris Watson when were not for KFI, which is mainly a materials handling and power generation company."

Harris Watson is a profitable privately owned engineering group, with a turnover in 2006-07 of over £50 million. The Birmingham-based firm has a consistent track record of successful investments in industrial businesses.

Harris Watson is committed to continuing investment in the products and services of all the Froude Hofmann businesses, which will retain its current management.

Mr Guest said: "There will be significant expenditure on product development, to make us extremely competitive in our market.

"It is going to triple product development budgets and we are doubling our number of research and development engineers. Working in a fast-moving and internationally competitive environment, we have always invested in research and development.

"This will allow us to increase that work in future." The company produces engine testing equipment for the automotive industry, which carry out emissions and endurance examinations.

This can have engines running 24 hours a day for several weeks, while other machines are designed to carry out quality audit testing on production line.

Some of the machines are produced from stock, while others are made according to the customer's requirements.