Home Business and economy Major investment in Knowsley company to lead to jobs boost

Major investment in Knowsley company to lead to jobs boost

by Jonathan Kearney

A Knowsley-based company that manufactures carbon ceramic brakes for high performance and premium vehicles is set to expand thanks to a £13.2m investment from Liverpool City Region Mayor Steve Rotheram’s Urban Development Fund, which is part funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).

Founded in 1992, Surface Transforms is one of only two main manufacturers of high-performance carbon-ceramic disk brakes in the world. More than a quarter of their workforce is made up of graduates and the company has local school partnerships in place providing STEM awareness, work experience, apprenticeships and graduate career pathways.

The £13.2m loan from the Mayor and the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority will enable the company to invest in new manufacturing facilities to increase its production capacity and meet the growing demand for its products. The company continues to invest in research and development within its manufacturing site to enable scale up and bring carbon ceramic brakes to the market.

The loan is forecast to result in 70 high value jobs being created and, thanks to the introduction of newer, more efficient furnace technology, lead to an annual decrease of 1,500 tonnes of CO2 emissions, from 2026 onwards. The company also expects the expansion to create additional opportunities for current apprentices and graduates.

Steve Rotheram, Mayor of the Liverpool City Region, said: “Our area is fortunate to be home to an abundance of world class manufacturers to rival anywhere in the world. It’s their distinctive capabilities and strengths that help to set our region apart from the rest, with industry leading businesses like Surface Transforms on our doorstep.

“This investment we’re making will be transformational in helping them to scale-up their operations – and create quality, highly skills jobs and training opportunities for local people. We’re showing the difference that devolution makes by helping local businesses to not only fulfil their potential but to ensure that our area remains at the forefront of manufacturing innovation. It’s local people that stand to benefit with jobs, training and apprenticeship opportunities.”

Kevin Johnson, CEO of Surface Transforms, said: “We are delighted to have secured this capital expenditure loan, which will enable us to execute our strategic growth plans and further strengthen our position as a leader in carbon fibre reinforced ceramic automotive brake discs.”

Surface Transforms plc. (AIM:SCE) develops and produces carbon‐ceramic material automotive brake discs. The company is the UK’s only manufacturer of carbon‐ceramic brake discs, and only one of two mainstream carbon-ceramic brake disc companies in the world, serving customers that include major Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) in the global automotive markets.

Cllr Tony Brennan, Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Economic Development at Knowsley Council, said: “Surface Transforms relocated to Knowsley eight years ago with support from Knowsley Council. In that time they have undergone a seven-fold increase in their workforce and that is only likely to increase with this additional investment in their machinery and production facilities. I think the Surface Transforms’ success story highlights how businesses can grow and thrive in Knowsley, particularly with the bespoke support available from our Invest Knowsley team.”

Isabelle Maddock, CFO of Surface Transforms, said: “We are exceptionally grateful for the support we have received from the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority in the form of this capital expenditure loan. Recognising the often-overlooked funding gap for UK companies transitioning from commercialisation to scale-up, this support will be instrumental in helping us grow our operations and meet the growing demand for our products.

“We are also proud to be contributing to the UK’s thriving innovation ecosystem and creating jobs in the Liverpool City Region.”

Cllr Kate Groucutt, Liverpool City Region Deputy Portfolio Holder for Economic Development and Business, said: “This loan from our Urban Development Fund will enable this innovative local company to continue to grow and innovate, creating 70 new, good quality jobs and creating more opportunities for graduates and apprentices already working at Surface Transforms.  At the same time it will enable the business to invest in cutting edge green technology to significantly reduce their carbon emissions.  This is a great example of how we, as a Combined Authority, can help create the conditions for local companies to thrive.”

Robert Wood, Investment Director, igloo Investment Management, said: “One of the principal objectives of the LCR UDF fund is to provide finance to enhance SME competitiveness within the City Region and also to reduce carbon emissions. The investment Surface Transforms are making to improve their manufacturing capacity will both create jobs and reduce carbon emissions in their premium end product. The business has a compelling case for support.”

The company utilises its proprietary next generation Carbon Ceramic Technology to create lightweight brake discs for high‐performance road and track applications for both internal combustion engine and electric vehicles.

This revolutionary technology is not only lighter and cleaner than standard brakes but also offers superior durability and performance, making it highly sought after by global automotive manufacturers.

The company is accredited with the London Stock Exchange’s “Green Economy Mark”, which recognises companies and funds that derive more than 50% of their revenues from products and services that are contributing to the environmental objectives such as climate change mitigation and adaptation, waste and pollution reduction, and the circular economy.