Reynolds on the ropes - BikeBiz

Reynolds on the ropes

The world-famous tube stretcher has laid off 16 out of 24 staff because of a glitch with its third party liability insurance. Manufacturing has been halted, the first such hiatus since the Tyseley factory was bombed in WWII. The 105-year old company, which exports the great majority of its steel, aluminium and titanium tubes to America, has just a week to find a serious amount of money for its post-September 11th insurance premiums, if an insurer can be found at all
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[NOTE: An unconfirmed report on Ceefax in the Midlands TV region said Reynolds has now secured an insurance deal. The rest ot this news piece may therefore be out of date but the definitive story will be posted ASAP.]

Reynolds was recently owned by Coyote Sports of America but this company flopped thanks to loan cross guantees with Apollo, a golf shaft maker, also owned by Coyote. Reynolds was MBOed in January 2000, with Keith Noronha as MD (shown pictured below at Interbike 2001).

As has been reported before on Bikebiz.co.uk, Reynolds Cycle Technology (2000) Ltd has a full order book, but it is heavily reliant on US sales and it’s this reliance on a litigious market that has scared off Reynolds’ current insurance provider.

The existing monthly premium of £1000 was not felt to be enough to cover the insurer’s losses incurred after the attacks on America on September 11th. Reynolds has not yet been able to find another insurer willing to take on the risk, at the premiums Reynolds can afford. This despite the fact Reynolds has never made an insurance claim on the policy.

And now it’s Catch22: as one insurance provider had declined the business, others are fighting shy too.

Tools have therefore had to be downed. 16 of the 24 full-timers at the Midlands plant have bene laid off on full pay.

Turnover at Reynolds increased last year and the company had a very successful Interbike presence.

At the US trade show Reynolds finally luanched its X-100 aluminium tubing, an aluminium/lithium alloy tubing that aims to bridge the gap between the high strength of steel and low density of aluminium, whilst allowing a lively but durable ride. Current alloys based on 6061 and 7005 alloys normally require larger diameters to maintain frame stiffness.

“We will always be strong in steel but to grow the business we’ve got to produce more exotic materials too. Anybody can buy straight-gauge titanium, we offer butted titanium. We aim to stay in the top niche, producing specialised products,” Terry Bill of Reynolds told bikebiz.co.uk at Interbike.

Noronha (said turnover for Reynolds in the first nine months of 2001 was up by 50 percent over the same period last year.

At Interbike he said the market is tough, and getting tougher:

“But you’ve got to get things in perspective,” he said.

“Reynolds has been through two World Wars, numerous recessions and we have suffered many other threats to our existence. But we’re still here.”

Reynolds was founded in 1897 by Alfred Milward Reynolds and JT Hewitt who started the Patent Butted Tubing Co. Ltd.

The company name was changed to Reynolds Tube Co. in 1923. 531 tubing was first produced in 1935; 753 in 1976.

During World War II, Reynolds produced 25 000 miles of light alloy and steel tubing for various applications, including for 20 000 Spitfires.

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