Development delays hit nanoscale instrument maker - Embedded.com

Development delays hit nanoscale instrument maker

LONDON — Delays in completing the development of the MiniSIMS ToF and the MiniSIMS HDA at Millbrook Scientific Instruments plc caused sales to halve to £623,000 in the six months ended Sept 30, 2006 compared to the previous six months.

Millbrook (Blackburn, England) designs and manufactures scientific instruments that measure nanoscale properties of thin films and coatings and says its MiniSIMS HDA has been now installed at major Japanese electronics company.

Operations at the Aquila Cambridge site ceased in September and the business has now been integrated into Millbrook’s operations in Blackburn. Millbrook purchased Aquila Instruments Limited in March 2003. The MiniSIMS sales force will sell the Aquila nkd, and the optical laboratory and demonstration instrument have been moved to the Blackburn site.

The Aquila rationalisation resulted in a reduction in manpower of three people and generated total savings of £135,000 p.a. A further £65,000 p.a. has been taken out of the operating cost base through reduction in external consultancy.

The group generated a loss at the EBITDA level of £270,000 in the half year compared with an EBITDA loss of £91,000 in the whole of 2005-6.

Gross margin at 53 per cent has been maintained at the same level as for the whole year 2005-6. Orders taken so far this year exceed £1,700,000 of which £990,000 have been shipped. Given a normal degree of slippage from prospect to order and allowing for production constraints, a sales level of around £2,500,000 is anticipated for the full year.

In April Millbrook raised £790,000 (gross) in a placing of approximately 15.8 million shares at 5p each. According to Dr Peter Stefanini, the company's executive chairman, “This cash injection tided us over what would have been a difficult period as a result of the delay to our development programme and the consequent postponement of shipments and cash receipts. As a result we were able to carry the programme to completion and promote the new products through our distribution network.”

Simon Cleaver, investment manager at YFM Private Equity Ltd, which is the largest shareholder in the company with a shareholding of 10 percent, has joined the board as a non-executive director.

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