Belfast Telegraph

Shorts' profits taking off despite turbulent times

By Staff Reporter

Local aerospace company Shorts boosted its profits last year despite a slight slide in turnover.

Business turnover fell by £41.5m to £450.6m in the 12 months to the end of January, lower than in any recent year but operating profits bounced back from a tight £6.7m a year ago to £20.1m in 2010-11. Operating profits at 4.4% were still well down on the averages in recent years.

Shorts remains the largest employer in Northern Ireland in the engineering sector, with just under 5,000 direct employees, and has further strengthened its position as a manufacturer of advanced aerospace products as it contributes significant parts to the family of aircraft manufactured by Bombardier.

Behind the immediate trading figures, Shorts has been investing heavily in equipment and technology to gain a larger share of the Bombardier order book. Prominent in the annual accounts for 2010-11 is reference to the work on the CSeries aircraft which the company describes as a game-changing design to meet airline requirements for more economical, flexible and passenger orientated aircraft.

During the year, the company invested a near-record £66m in buildings and equipment in the several plants. This was double the investment a year earlier and four times the amounts invested in the two immediately preceding years.

Towards the end of 2010, the company announced a further multi-million-pound investment in the research, development and production of advanced composite wing structures for the Learjet 85 business jet.