Aeroco Looks Forward Post-Acquisition

The UK-based company has weathered the effects of COVID-19 and is now planning its future under new ownership.
Credit: Aeroco

UK-based Aeroco is looking at new service offerings and capabilities following the past year, which saw it navigate the novel coronavirus pandemic along with undergoing a change of ownership.

The business was acquired by Aeroco directors Jonathan Bird and Tony Lewin at the beginning of March 2021 as part of a management buyout which saw company founder and owner William Sheil exit the business. 

Bird and Lewin took control of Aeroco Group Holdings along with its subsidiary companies comprised of Aeroco Group International, Aeroco Aircraft Engineering and Aerograph.

According to Bird, the acquisition process had been in the works for some time. “The process began around 18 months ago and we got to a point where the outline was in place and we had funding options to consider, but then COVID-19 hit, which made some potential backers a bit cautious about the long-term prospects of the MRO market,” he says. 

Like many companies in the aviation industry, Aeroco wasn’t immune from the economic impacts related to COVID-19 and this led to the company utilizing the British government’s furlough scheme to maintain staff. 

However, relatively speaking, Bird says Aeroco performed fairly well during the crisis, a fact he partly attributes to its multi-service offerings which, aside from maintenance, include manufacturing, design and airside services. “The company benefited from not being built to just carry out one service provision,” he says. 

Bird uses the example of Aeroco’s seat overhauling capability, which slowed down during the crisis as aircraft were grounded on a large scale. “This didn’t necessarily hinder us as we had other approvals and class ratings that allowed us to navigate the pandemic,” he says. 

While the market was tricky to navigate given the changing nature of the virus, one part of the market Aeroco focused on in the wake of the crisis was working with lessors on end-of-lease maintenance given the high volume of aircraft coming off lease in 2020, offsetting the slowdown in repair services for cost-conscious airlines. 

One area of focus is diversifying capabilities in the company’s Part 21 manufacturing division, which Bird sees as ripe for developing more products. Pre-COVID-19, Part 145 accounted for around 60-70% of Aeroco’s business, with the remainder on the manufacturing side. “Right now, this has swung completely the other way,” Bird says. “However this is starting to turn a bit and eventually when the market levels out, we’ll end up with a bit more of both services.” 

Some recently developed offerings are already seeing strong interest, Bird says. “Our new service provision for newly manufactured EPA Airbus A320 family cargo panels has been very successful,” he says, adding that the product is offered as an alternative to buying directly from the OEM. 

James Pozzi

As Aviation Week's MRO Editor EMEA, James Pozzi covers the latest industry news from the European region and beyond. He also writes in-depth features on the commercial aftermarket for Inside MRO.