£6m record turnover in sight for South Bank specialist who's ‘not worried about Brexit’

By Scunthorpe Telegraph | Posted: 19 Dec 2018

A specialist firm that exports advanced medical and security technology has just completed its biggest order in a proud 170- year history.

And the managing director behind Barton’s Braun and Co Ltd, Barry Shepherd has urged fellow South Bank companies not to cower from international trade as Brexit looms.

The business will head into 2019 on course for a record £6 million turnover, after four huge cargo scanners have been sourced and installed for border points between Ghana, Togo, Nigeria and Benin, on behalf of the Economic Community of West African States.

The project was worth £5.1 million, with Braun capitalising on a demand for British engineering quality, working with third party manufacturers in Hull, Lincoln and across Europe, to provide turnkey solutions for clients.

It is strongest in Africa and Indonesia, and benefits from the requirement of countries where UK foreign aid goes, to buy British with a percentage of the budgets afforded.

Their tourniquet machine.

Director Lucy Lyon, Mr Shepherd’s daughter, and one of five siblings in the firm, said: “It makes it such an exciting year, having secured the largest contract we have ever had for security equipment.”

A further £500,000 win for body scanners is being delivered for the Anti-Narcotic Force in Pakistan, working with the United Nations.

Read more: HBP hits £10m turnover mark for the first time

Founded in London in 1848, by Henry Braun, a German engineer who had come to Britain in the 1800s, fine engineering model-making was the specialism, with working scale items from steam trains to breweries produced for the world fairs of the day.

The intricacy of it lent itself to medical deployment in the 1930s. At the time Mr Shepherd’s father, Reginald, worked for the son of Mr Braun, and were described as “both good engineers who developed a father-son relationship.”

In 1936 Mr Shepherd Snr bought the company from Mr Braun Jnr and at the outbreak of war medical manufacturing turned to munitions, specifically grenades. The Blitz led to a relocation to Barton, with Mr Shepherd Snr familiar with the area having been born to a railway family, who used free travel to holiday in Cleethorpes.

Braun's model of the Silver Link train next to the real thing with Reg Shepherd, left, and Mr Braun, right.

When the war ended the business returned to the medical sector, and a step into chrome-plating saw it work for British Oxygen Company, and manufacture for what became GE. It was responsible for early innovation of an anaesthetic machine known as Boyle’s Machine.

In 1963 it made the Lancet and The Times of London with a pneumatic self-compensating tourniquet machine.

Read more: Multi-million pound Italian rail deals secured by British Steel

Mr Shepherd Jnr joined Braun on the sudden death of his father in 1972, selling an electrical business he had started, then working from the bottom up with consultants initially brought in to steer it through.

“At the time it was 90 per cent work for BOC and 10 per cent for UK hospitals,” he said. That was intentionally changed to a 60 / 40 ratio, but there was a sense of what was to come.

“I could see 25 years ago there was no growth for us in the NHS. It was already starting to get tight for money, so we started to export in a small way.

“We could then see customers wanted it easy. They wanted to buy everything from us. We widened the range, and if we didn’t make it we forged arrangements with people who could make it for us.”

The original King's Cross premises of Braun & Co Ltd 'model makers and experimental engineers'.

From a factory in Pasture Road, Braun moved to Falkland Way Industrial Estate 11 years ago, taking an entire block of units on Harrier Road for assembly, inspection and quality control.

A team of 15 now works there, alongside 50 global agents.

From equipment it went to clinics and then hospitals, and now works with building contractors on the entire package, helping deliver 29 hospitals in Nigeria.

“Because we built clinics, we were asked if we could build hospitals and we have now been asked if we can build housing,” Mr Shepherd said. It is closing in on a deal to provide 3,000 two-bed bungalow units in Cameroon, and there’s potential of a 200-bed hospital at the request fo the president for the Nigerian Air Force.

“We have great agents and we’re not worried about Brexit,” Mr Shepherd said. “People are fearful about exporting, We are doing all the paperwork now because we are not selling to the EU, and it really isn’t difficult. If people are frightened they needn’t be, they should just give it a go.”

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