Tricorn Group's West Bromwich manufacturing facility is proving pivotal in helping to drive the development of the firm’s new operations in the US and China.

The importance of the Malvern-based tube manipulation specialist's West Midlands factory - Maxpower Automotive - was highlighted as the firm announced its annual results.

Tricorn posted a pre-tax loss, despite a revenue rise, saying expansion of its international manufacturing operations had coincided with structural change.

In the year to March 31 2014, Tricorn posted revenue of £24.4 million, compared to £21.3 million in 2013, and an underlying pre-tax loss of £343,000.

Overall, it registered a pre-tax loss of £1 million after costs related to restructuring and starting up in China. This was down was from a 2012/13 pre-tax profit of £1.31 million.

The company said it had progressed in terms of "laying the foundations for long-term growth", particularly in the US and China where it has formed a new joint venture.

CEO Mike Welburn told the Post: "It has been quite a tough year for us but I think against that we have made some significant progress in establishing a broader manufacturing footprint - something we have been looking to do over the last 18 months or so."

Mr Welburn said the firm's two manufacturing facilities in China and one in the US were now established, with its West Bromwich operation supporting both by matching the "customer footprint" in its transportation division.

He said: "It is a significant part of the transportation division and actually the facility that is coordinating things in China with the joint venture there. No doubt the expanding footprint we now have is holding that in very good stead."

Mr Welburn said tubular assembly had seen a reduction year-on-year in revenues, leading to a restructuring which meant it was now "in a far better position going forward".

Similarly, a fall in revenues at its Derby aerospace business on the back of a contract loss announced in 2012 had also prompted a restructuring.

"We have done a good job to curtail losses to the level we have had," said Mr Welburn. "That business is now starting to recover and starting to win new business."

He added that Tricorn and its customers had expected more of an upturn in the energy markets but had met the challenges around the aerospace sector.

Transportation remains strong, particularly looking forward in China and the US.

Mr Welburn said: "We are encouraged with the progress we are making in China. We have still got work to do with our US operation, we bought that out of administration - it was a distressed business."

Looking to the year ahead, he added: "We're looking at what should hopefully be a pretty stable outlook for energy and the return of our business to profitability. Also progress within aerospace that reduces the level of loss from where we currently are."

The firm said it was also pleased to have reduced its net debt.

Finance director Phil Lee said: "Our net debt position is just under £3.4 million, down on the half-year position. We will continue to bring debt down over the next year."

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