Seagate co-founder sets sights on European manufacturing with UK deal

September 19, 2016 // By Nick Flaherty
Surface mount line at Exception EMS in Wiltshire
Asian contract manufacturer Fabrinet has gained a foothold in Europe in a $13.5m deal to buy UK-based Exception EMS.

"Fabrinet has enjoyed exceptional growth over the past several years, primarily with customers in the US and Japan, and there are tremendous opportunities for growing our business in Europe," said Tom Mitchell, Chairman and CEO of Fabrinet, based in Thailand. Mitchell was one of the co-founders of disk drive maker Seagate Technology, and set up Fabrinet in 2000 with one of the former Seagate plants to provide low volume manufacturing of complex optical components.

"With this acquisition, we are establishing a strong foothold in Europe, which will allow us to grow our business with European customers, and give them access to our advanced low-cost manufacturing services in Thailand, particularly in our new facility in Chonburi that is coming on-line and ramping in the next several months," he said. 

Exception was founded in 2005 in Calne, Wiltshire, and provides contract electronics manufacturing services to the global electronics companies with design, manufacture and testing of printed circuit boards. Customers include industrial, energy, aerospace and defence companies, with approximately 80% of its revenue coming from customers in Europe. Its current turnover is £22m (E25m) and the company recently installed three new surface mount lines. “This last year has once again exceeded our goal, with a record turnover of around £22m and growth of over 40% in our On-Demand business," said Mark O’Connor, CEO at Exception EMS. "This latest investment in equipment will ensure we offer our customers the UK’s best surface mount lines in terms of configuration and will ensure operational efficiency to the highest degree.”

In February 2015, Fabrinet established Fabrinet West, a new product introduction (NPI) centre in Santa Clara, California, to give US customers advanced NPI services, particularly those in Silicon Valley. Fabrinet will now bring the same NPI services to European customers, along with the low-volume manufacturing services Exception EMS provided historically. Going forward, as NPI projects in Fabrinet West and Exceptions EMS transition to volume manufacturing, these intra-company relationships will facilitate the transfer of the volume manufacturing to Fabrinet's Thailand facilities.

www.exceptiongroup.com/