Marshall of Cambridge drops into red as aviation problems cause profits crash

Marshall of Cambridge, one of Britain’s biggest and most historic private organisations, has crashed into the red after a series of difficulties.

The business, Marshall of Cambridge, based out of Cambridge airport terminal and which has aviation, automotive and property industries – reported a 43 percent jump in revenues to £2.25bn but published a £9.8m pre-tax loss, changing the £22.2m profit published last year.

The dive into the red was down to three major predicaments concentrated in aerospace and defence works, Robert Marshall, chief executive of the 108-year-old family-owned business, said in the yearly report.

He cited a “major failure” in the group’s “most challenging engineering programme” resulting in a £26m loss, the closure of the aviation business servicing Hawker Beechcraft aircraft Marshalls bought in 2013 after it experienced losses and a buyer could not be found, and inadequate investment in the contract pipeline of the composites industry.

The chief executive said the “three failures pointed to some challenges in the management of Marshall Aerospace and Defence Group, which have been addressed, and also in the way group manages, monitors and influences practices in its wholly owned subsidiaries”.

Nonetheless, Marshall said it had seen “exceptional” demand for its services supporting C-130 Hercules cargo aircraft for the RAF during the year.

Against the dilemmas, Marshall had “notable successes” including gaining planning approval for a 1,300 home property construction, and Marshall Motor Holdings – in which Marshall has a 65 percent share – boosting revenue by £1bn after obtaining the Ridgway car dealer network.

The unexpected performance follows five years of stellar growth, with income more than doubling from £1.1bn in 2013 and number of employees growing to more than 6,000.

Marshall was founded in 1909 by David Gregory Marshall from a lock-up parking in Cambridge as a chauffeur aid but soon expanded into marketing and servicing cars, then went into aerospace in 1912 rebuilding a British Army airship. In 1926 it began an aerodrome and flying school, and the business trained 20,000 pilots during the Second World War.