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NAA event review – Briggs Automotive Company

The recent factory visit at Briggs Automotive Company, the home of the single-seater, road legal Mono supercar, proved to be another extremely popular NAA event; in addition to a presentation about the latest BAC company news, NAA delegates were treated to a thought-provoking presentation from Google, as well as a talk from Bentley.

Neill Briggs, BAC Director, provided an update about the company. The single-seater Mono has continued to capture the imagination of both the media and new customers since the car’s second fastest lap time on Top Gear (the programme’s infamous presentation style now of course part of BBC history…). In fact Neill views the Mono’s performance at the hands of the Stig as the fastest lap time for a car with road legal tyres.

Hot on the heels of the Top Gear success came the move into a new factory in Liverpool in order to ensure the Monos on the company’s order book could be built more quickly. Neill referred to the NAA’s support for the company. This helped to identify that most funding would be offered to BAC from Liverpool, as well as assisting the business with its submission to the Lord Mayor’s Fund, and facilitating an introduction to the Virtual Engineering Centre (VEC) and associated technical funding, allowing much design work on the car to be carried out in a virtual world.

BAC is proud to use many suppliers in the North West (38% of components are sourced from the Liverpool City Region), and the aim is to grow this local supply base over the coming years. Neill said that he met three new suppliers, including carbon fibre manufacturer Sigmatex, at last year’s NAA event at the Cholmondeley Pageant of Power – showing that NAA events work.

BAC is planning on generating 60 new jobs over the next five years and the factory tour certainly showed that BAC is very busy manufacturing cars, with a large number of vehicles in the process of being built. Perhaps the biggest success story is that 98% of BAC Monos are exported.

Jim Shaw from Bentley Motors also gave a talk at the event about innovation. Although Bentley is a very large operation compared to BAC, there are many similarities in the customer base of both brands – and their expectations in the areas of performance and innovation. The big news for Bentley is the launch of the new SUV and Jim provided the audience with an update on the development of this vehicle, confirming that recent cold weather testing has shown that it is proving to be a highly accomplished car.

If the audience at this event was expecting and an easy ride up to lunch, then this idea was shattered by the final presenter, Hugh Dickerson from Google. Hugh showed how the rate of change is becoming more and more rapid each day – “today is slowest day of technological change for rest of your life” – and suggested to the companies in the audience that if their websites aren’t optimised to work on a mobile phone then they may be heading out of business.

Hugh invited all NAA member companies to become ‘disruptors’ – and made the point that most OEMs aren’t in this category (probably with the exception of BAC). He gave three key items of business advice:

  1. Take risks – be creative and ‘aim for the moon’
  2. Wise up – use data to make better decisions
  3. Speed up – become faster than your competitors

The event at BAC was another example of an experience that money simply cannot buy – only by being part of the NAA network can you visit and learn so much about a growing company such as BAC, hear Bentley’s view about innovation, and get a kick up the backside from Google.

Investing in England's North West - European Regional Development Fund
Partners Department for Business Innovation and Skills Finance Birmingham