Aerospace investment takes off

The managing director of one of Lancashires advanced manufacturing big hitters has underlined its commitment to investment in the county.

Safran Nacelles in Burnley, which employs 750 people, has a £12m investment programme planned over the next four years.

Part of an international high-tech group operating in the aerospace and defence markets, its operation in Burnley can trace its history back seven decades.

Michael Rigalle was appointed managing director for the site at the end of last year. He says the investment follows the business successfully bringing a number of new programmes to east Lancashire over the past four years.

And he adds the work on the operation’s infrastructure will “ensure the ongoing competitiveness and operational excellence of the business”.

A new hub for innovation, problem solving and creative thinking is being opened, complete with virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) suites.

And the investment also includes the installation of industry-leading equipment including robotics and an automated welding machine.

The aerospace sector in both Lancashire and the North West has the ability to be a world-leader.

Michael points out that the Paris-listed company’s investment in the area isn’t just about equipment – it is working hard to address the subject of skills.

He says: “One of the crucial areas of our on-going investment is the investment in our people to expand and develop our skill sets, and help prevent a skills gap in the future.

He is bullish for the prospects of the Burnley business and the sector. He says: “The aerospace sector in both Lancashire and the North West has the ability to be a world-leader in innovation and research and development, with many exciting developments currently happening across the board.

“The challenge will be to compete to lower our cost bases in the global aerospace sector, but I feel that in the North West you can achieve both quality and quantity.

A full interview with Michael Rigalle can be found in the current issue of Lancashire Business View, which is available now.