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Keyword:

Strategy

Our strategy builds on our business model and reflects the current dynamics of our defence and security markets.

Our markets have been driven by the long decline in defence spending over the last five years. In particular, the US, which accounts for about half of Chemring’s revenues, has reduced its total spend by nearly 20% since 2010, with much of the reduction in Overseas Contingency Operations funding. This US trend has been mirrored across NATO allies as operations have ceased in Iraq and Afghanistan. Now, across the US and Europe the decline appears to have levelled at a macro level, and the impact of this is slowly filtering down to the relatively low value systems, products and components which Chemring manufactures: IED detection systems are now recognised as Programs of Record in the US defence budget; excessive stockpiles of consumables bought to support operations have now been run down; and procurement of new combat aircraft is driving emerging demand for bespoke, next-generation countermeasures. We anticipate that the overall defence markets in the US and Europe will remain subdued but stable.

In the UK, Roke, which provides technology solutions to security agencies, is seeing a growth in demand for its services – following the Chancellor’s commitment to increase spending on cyber-security for the UK, this growth is likely to continue.

Australia is Chemring’s other “home” market. The Commonwealth has declared a ten-year plan to grow defence spending by over 80%, and in particular has recognised that this needs to be de-coupled from GDP growth to maintain an appropriate response to China’s increasingly capable forces in the region.

The Middle East remains an important export market for Chemring, but it has become much more volatile, with the opposing forces of escalating conflicts in the region, countered by the collapse in oil prices since 2014. The region had consistently increased year-on-year defence spending from 2006 to 2014, but in 2015 defence spending reduced by 10% as oil-producing countries were forced to tighten their belts in response to declining income. The Group has already seen a number of order delays and cancellations, and the outlook is likely to remain volatile, with only urgent operational requirements likely to receive support and funding.

Against this backdrop, our strategy builds on three themes.

As the defence sector emerges from a period of sustained decline, our short-term priority is to deliver profit and cash. We have re-scaled the Group to reflect current market conditions and have completed several restructuring programmes, with several more under way as specific production programmes complete.

Many of our facilities handle and process energetic materials, which require special facilities and often large sites with high fixed costs. We continue to monitor the cost base at a Group, segment and site level, and benchmark fixed costs both internally and externally to ensure that all our businesses are scaled and scoped to operate safely, effectively and efficiently.

Tight control of the overhead base means that the Group is positioned to deliver profit and cash from its strong order book, which currently benefits from a handful of major international orders in the Energetic Systems segments.

The second theme of our strategy is to systematically upgrade our businesses through a Group-wide Operational Excellence Programme.

As a Group, we have recognised that there are common operational themes and challenges across the Countermeasures, Sensors & Electronics, and Energetic Systems segments, despite the apparent diversity of products across the businesses. For example, few of our manufacturing operations are continuously producing any single product, and several businesses deliver completely different products from one year to the next. Other common challenges include development to production transition, right-first-time production and a systematic approach to trouble-shooting when there are problems.

In order to address these common challenges, we have established a programme to develop and roll-out a common operating model and tool-set, which builds on and shares the collective experiences and best practices across the Group. We expect this to deliver tangible benefits in:

  • Safety
  • Eliminating rework
  • On-time delivery
  • Profitability
  • Working capital

A key part of the programme will be to establish common key performance indicators, and to measure progress and improvements against these KPIs.

Finally, the Group will prioritise investment in equipment, facilities and development to deliver growth. As a result of its position in the US countermeasures market, and strategic investments in sensors technology, the Group is well positioned on several major programmes, mainly in the US. These multi-year, multi-million dollar “Growth Programmes” underpin the growth of the Group and extend to the mid-2020s, and include:

  • F-35 countermeasures
  • Joint Biological Tactical Detection System
  • Next Generation Chemical Detector
  • Husky Mounted Detection System

In addition to these specific Programs of Record in the US, our UK Sensors & Electronics businesses face exciting opportunities in next-generation electronic warfare, cyber electro-magnetic activity (“CEMA”) and consulting and R&D for UK agencies.

These programmes are the main priorities for investment to ensure that Chemring secures and maintains its position as sole-source supplier of these key military capabilities. We will fund this investment by managing the portfolio, particularly in the Energetic Systems segments, to deliver profit and cash.

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