Future of 78 Co Down workers safeguarded after pre-pack sale to Hinchtech

Long-established Ballynahinch electronics firm Nitronica goes into administration but is bought over within hours

The 53,000 sq ft Nitronica business in Ballynahinch, which has been bought out in a pre-pack sale, safeguarding the futures of its 78 staff

Ballynahinch-based electronic manufacturing services provider Nitronica (formerly Plessey and then Via Systems) was forced to call in administrators on Tuesday after its parent company Pexion Group bowed to “challenging trading conditions”.

But within hours, the administrators completed a pre-pack sale of the business and assets to a newly-incorporated firm Hinchtech Ltd in a transaction which may safeguard the jobs of its 78 employees in the Co Down town.

Operating from a 53,000 sq ft facility in Ballynahinch, Nitronica provides flexible contract electronic manufacturing (CEM) services to customers worldwide, including companies operating in the energy, aerospace, security, defence, medical and consumer electronics sectors.

Nitronica is one of 14 trading subsidiaries within the Pexion Group, headquartered in Chorley, Lancashire, which specialises in the design, development and manufacture of high specification precision, subtractive, additive, fabricated and electronic components and sub-assemblies for high-tech industries. It has 430 employees overall.

Nitronica was formed in 2002 after a management buy out from the previous owners of the business Via Systems, and in 2019 it was then acquired by the Pexion Group.

Over recent months Pexion said it has experienced challenging trading conditions and had started to come under increasing financial pressure from its suppliers, which in turn put pressure on its liquidity position.

In response, the directors sought to undertake a review of the sale and restructuring options available to them, but when a solvent solution could not be found, they took steps to seek the appointment of joint administrators Stuart Irwin and Richard Harrison from Interpath Advisory.

Stuart Irwin said: “With a heritage dating back over 70 years, Nitronica has played an important role in delivering contract electronic manufacturing services to some of the world’s leading manufacturers, as well as being a significant employer for the local community in Ballynahinch.

“We’re delighted to have secured this transaction which will ensure continuity of service at the company’s facility in Co Down, and which, importantly, preserves employment for its dedicated workforce.”

Hinchtech Ltd, which has an address at Ballinderry Road in Lisburn, was only incorporated on February 27 this year, and according to Companies House the nature of its business is the manufacture of loaded electronic boards.

Its sole director is John Daniel Henry McKeown (42), who has nine other listed directorships, mostly of companies incorporated for less than a month.

Nitronica’s predecessor firm Plessey originated in 1917 and was eventually listed on the London Stock Exchange. In 1989 it was taken over by a consortium formed by GEC and Siemens which split the assets of the Plessey group.

The majority of Plessey’s defence assets were amalgamated into BAE Systems in 1999 and the bulk of its telecoms assets were acquired by Ericsson through its 2005 acquisition of Marconi, a successor company of GEC.