MERLIN EQUIPMENT LIMITED
Merlin Equipment are world-leading design and manufacturers of power system products for commercial and defence markets. Starting out by providing emergency vehicles in the UK, they pioneered the design of a new smart-gauge battery monitor that is now used in a wide range of military vehicles on a global scale. Merlin Equipment will use the money raised to further their product range still, by purchasing new equipment.
Experts in power
This is a generational business started over 30 years ago, handed to our current director, James, by his father. In the beginning, we were focused on providing power inverters to emergency vehicles in the UK. James spotted a gap in the market and designed an innovative smart-gauge battery monitor which widened our horizons as a business. Since then he has changed the business from a distributor of products (net importer) to a design and manufacture house (net exporter). He won Dorset Entrepreneur of the Year award in recognition of his efforts and employs a dedicated and passionate team.
Our products are of the highest quality and reliability. This is crucial given the importance of our clients: the Metropolitan Police and the Ambulance Services both use our power systems in their emergency vehicles, and we have an on-going relationship that ensures all their needs are serviced by us. We've also worked with the British Army & Special Forces, Cosworth, Thales, British Telecom and EnerSys. In addition, we're currently working on exciting partnerships involving military vehicles. The advantage of our products being so diverse is that we can be active in numerous markets, which we are exploring in the US at present.
In order to continue to innovate and deliver, we are raising funds to take our business to the next level and have several new products under development at present. We will use the funds raised to bring these new products to market (by way of new tooling required), finance a number of contracts that are commencing in the next quarter, and to consolidate an existing loan.
Where will the funds go?
A. Hi Adam, we distribute product where great products already exist (eg with inverters and batteries). Merlin's fill in the gaps and are enablers for system building and problem solving. Anything branded Merlin is ours. The defence product line is much wider than our commercial offering - the website is being uploaded as I write this. Our IP features on SmartGauge, SmartBank, PowerGuard, PowerBank, PowerCentre, DataCell, Cobra Fuel Cell etc. Happy to talk you through it if u call in. Regards James
A. Hi Adam, Yes. Any product that is branded Merlin contains our own IP. We have a substantial amount of IP in our monitoring & management products. We dont patent our technology as we'd have to disclose how we do things & spend our time policing the market (Cisco use the same approach). Our new website is being populated - almost all of our Defence line of products are fully owned IP wise by ourselves - https://www.merlinequipment.com/product-category/3-defence-applications/3-1-defence-products/.
A. Thanks Derrick!
A. Hi Derrick, Thanks for the query. Mainly due to the fact that the high street banks require asset backed security. Our biggest asset is our IP. Unless our IP carries a patent (if we patent our know how, we will simply tell the world how we do it) they won't consider our IP as suitable security (regardless of there being a US DoD contract behind it). It's not easy running an engineering business here in the UK! Thanks James
A. Hi Jocelyn, yes Merlin USA is our Distributor. The products they buy are built here in the UK and are exports. One single product (for the US DoD) is built under licence by Merlin USA in the States - for this Merlin UK receives a Royalty payment which is equivalent to our normal margin as if we'd built that product ourselves. The Canadian deal is for our DataCell IIe Battery Monitoring System which will be shipped from here. Hope this answers your question? Regards - James
A. No problem! I learnt yesterday that we are due another order from the USA for 200x power management systems deliverable this year. Also that another contract for Canada is kicking off in 2020 which will mean further expansion for the business. Very proud that a piece of British engineering is at the heart of overseas vehicle design & is great news amongst the doom & gloom we read daily in the media. Also introducing a new line of products to customers today - see my LinkedIn for more info! James
A. Hi Derrick, Thanks for the question. We're working on a monitor that is capable of providing Soc%, SoH% & range calculations on HV systems. We also have a new product called "OneBox" to allow connection of aux electrical systems to Hybrids & Euro 6 Vehicles with regenerative braking systems (this is a major cause of integration problems for vehicle builders at the moment). OneBox protoyping is in Beta test phase now and we are preparing to launch the product during Q2 this year. Regards - James
A. Hi Ernst, Thanks for the question. These are made up of an HMRC R&D tax refund (we usually see a fairly large rebate), VAT refund (due to exports) and prepayments. Hope this answers your question. Kind Regards - James
A. Hi Michael, the old loan rate is relatively high and a revolving facility where the repayments are large. By converting it over, it saves in the region of £3k a month all-told so makes financial sense to do it. Its not a P2P loan. Hope his answers your question. Regards - James
A. Evening Adam, all payments were (and continue to be) paid in full and on time. Kind Regards James
A. Hi Jocelyn, Merlin Power Systems is our USA Distributor - and separate entities. They handle US sales with several contracts that run for the next 15 years. Hope this answers your question. Regards James
A. Our business is split between commercial and defence vehicle. Virtually all commercial is UK only. Defence vehicle is UK, USA, Australia and Canada. The split varies according to contracts (some of the defence ones are big so skew the numbers). We have virtually no exposure to EU exports at this time. Hope this answers your questions. Regards - James
A. Through retained profits, stock-holding and a short-term loan. Certain parts of the business are scalable up and down in the event of an unforseen downturn so there is flexibility. Furthermore, our IP is mission critical for a number of important defence platforms so we could leverage if the worst ever happened. Our pipeline and upcoming contracts do secure the long term prospects for this business. James
A. We have 3x full time engineers engaged in R&D. However, our sales team (including myself) have a big role to play as often our R&D efforts are customer led and the feedback from them is imperative to us developing products that are quickly and positively accepted into the marketplace. We have a well appointed R&D lab including our own EMC test equipment - something many small business have to pay lots for (EMC testing required for CE, E-Mark etc). Regards - James
A. Hi Jakob. Thanks for the question. So far this year is shaping up well with current net profits into 6 figures with 5 months left to go until year end. We have just received notification of a significant contract award and the pipeline looks good. We've just relocated the business also and the changes made are already making big positive impacts for our customers and overall efficiency. 2019-2020 is looking extremely positive too. Hope this answers your query. Kind Regards James
A. Hi Jocelyn, I've asked the web people to take a look and make sure it works! Thank you James
A. Hi Alan, thanks for the question. Because the business is very much project based, we have to maintain a certain level of overhead (mainly in skilled individuals) in order to deliver when those projects and contracts come in. In the next 6 months, we will crystallise the income from several programmes that greatly increase the overall margin and return significant profits. The loan itself buys tooling for new products that increase overall margin also. Hope this answers your query? BR - James
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