Jaguar plans boost Top 100 manufacturer

MARTIN Wood, managing director at Kostal UK
MARTIN Wood, managing director at Kostal UK
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Jaguar Land Rover’s plans to create 1,700 jobs in the West Midlands as part of a £1.5 billion investment plan have been hailed as good news for South Yorkshire.

The expansion programme has been welcomed by Martin Wood, managing director of Kostal UK, based at Goldthorpe.

“JLR are our biggest customer and the recent announcement of more jobs and increased production is very good news for us,” said Mr Wood, speaking before returning to the region from the Frankfurt Motor Show.

“In terms of growth they have doubled their volumes in the past three years which is having a huge effect on their supply chain which we are part of. They build highly desirable products with very useable technology.”

Kostal’s UK operations were only last week named as one of the Top 100 Manufacturers in the Sheffield City region, following a study by Sheffield University Management School and Star Business.

The company was also rated as the fourth most profitable of the Top 100 Manufacturers to be based within the Rotherham postal district and the 20th largest employer in the Top 100.

The company has a long standing relationship with Jaguar Land Rover.

“We developed the world’s first rotary shift gear change for Jaguar Land Rover - Jaguar Drive Select,” says Mr Wood.

“There are other rotary gear shifts on the market now but not to such high functionality as ours.”

Mr Wood was attending the Frankfurt Motor Show, seeking new business on the back of Kostal’s new technology.

Although Kostal UK’s parent group is based in the German town of Lüdenscheid, about 150 miles north of Frankfurt, each of its plants specialises in different areas, so making the trip from the UK is worthwhile.

Kostal UK supplies electrical switches and modules for the interiors of many prestigious vehicle manufacturers. Its customers are split 50:50 between home and export markets and include all the big names in the automotive sector - Audi, BMW, Ford, Jaguar Land Rover, Mercedes, Porsche, Rolls Royce, Volvo and VW among them.

“At Kostal UK we specialise in low to mid volume highly complex products. Our products range from those with perhaps three or four components to those with a hundred or more,” says Mr Wood.

“We have a lot of customers here and this gives us a chance to show them our new technology which in turn leads to more business opportunities.

“There is a lot of development in the electrification of vehicles which is of interest to us, as is HMI – human machine interface – connectivity, which is about how your phone is linked to your car and how data is transferred from one to the other.

“We have some interesting technologies on that, and, back with our more traditional products, we have developed new technologies for switches which interest a number of our clients.”