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Award winning engineering firm, Group Rhodes marked the occasion of a visit (Thursday 5 July) to its Wakefield head office by Business Secretary, Vince Cable to announce a clutch of exports orders worth £24.5m which will help to secure the future of the company and lead to the creation of new jobs in both design engineering and application disciplines.

Group company, Joseph Rhodes are double winners of the prestigious Queen’s Award for Enterprise, the first of these for innovation was received in 2010 in recognition of its continuous development of Super Plastic Forming and Diffusion Bonding Presses (SPF/DB) specifically designed for the high temperature forming of titanium and aluminium alloys, primarily used in the aerospace and automotive industry. This year the company was recognised again, this time for its outstanding achievements in overseas markets in particular China.

As well as its two Wakefield sites, which offer over 18,500sqm of production capability, Group Rhodes also operates divisions in Sheffield and Manchester, employs 245 people and exports one third of its multi-million turnover to over 30 countries each year.

Overseas visits by its technical sales team, participation in exhibitions in Continental Europe, India, Saudi Arabia, Malaysia and Algeria and major event sponsorships in China has helped the company to secure sales in emerging markets. The company has also recently announced a joint venture in India to manufacture Group products for the heavy ceramics sector.

The recent contract wins include a £13m deal (subject to contract) with Babcock Noell (Germany) involving the design and manufacture of a series of Winding Machines to manufacture the Poloidal Field Magnets to contain the Plasma for the ITER Nuclear Fusion project.

Formed by a collaboration of nations from Europe, China, USA and Russia, the ITER project is currently under construction in the South of France and aims to demonstrate that fusion is an energy source of the future. It has the capacity to produce energy on a large scale, using plentiful fuels, and releasing no carbon dioxide or other greenhouse gases.

Hot on the heels of this contract, Group Rhodes has received a £9m order from an Asian company to supply three hydraulic forging presses with induction heating and inter-press transfer robots. The Rhodes presses will form the basis of a brand new state-of-the-art production line. Group Rhodes sales director, Barry Richardson, explained: “A deciding factor in winning this order was a performance appraisal supplied by BAE Systems. The British aerospace manufacturer has utilised similar Rhodes presses for a number of years.”

Completing the trio of recent contract wins is a £2.5m order from Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd for a 10,600 tonne Polymer Die Press. The press which measures an impressive 4m wide x 3m deep x 8m high and weighs in excess of 136 tonnes will produce components for both civil and military aircraft.

Group Rhodes, managing director, Mark Ridgway OBE, commented: “We had to overcome fierce international competition to win these latest orders. It was our track record in supplying innovative and state-of-the-art machinery that provided our customers with the confidence to place the business with us.”

He added: “We were delighted to welcome the Minister and have the opportunity to give him a tour of our manufacturing facility and introduce him to some of our skilled and dedicated workforce.”

In addition to Group Rhodes export success, the Business Secretary was particularly impressed with its Modern Apprenticeships and Vocational Training Schemes.

Business Secretary Vince Cable said: “I am delighted that Group Rhodes has won three new export orders worth £24.5 million. The UK is still one of the world’s leading manufacturing nations and the sector accounts for half of the UK’s exports. Encouraging more businesses to export and attract investment in the UK is a central plank of the Government's Plan for Growth.”