End of an era for Renishaw

Author
Ian Mean
Director of Business West Gloucestershire | Business West
4th March 2021

Renishaw is the epitome of a great British engineering company - started by engineers with great ideas and developed by those same engineers over 50 years.

The founders, Sir David McMurtry, 80 and John Deer, 83 are selling their shares in the company with the hope that their incredible legacy of innovation will continue.

Both Sir David and John Deer are set for a £2.6bn windfall from their 53pc stake with the company now being valued at £4.84bn.

When the sale was announced on Tuesday, the shares rocketed by 19pc or 1100p to a record 69OOp.

That valued Sir David’s 36.2pc stake at £1,82bn while John Deer’s 16.6pc holding is now worth £834m.

Innovation has always been the watchword of Renishaw and it is obvious from the sale statement by the founders that the buyer of this world-leading business must have a clear grip of their working culture.

Sir David’s personal hero is Isambard Kingdom Brunel, one of the heroes of Britain’s Industrial Revolution and one of the most prolific and ingenious figures in the history of engineering.

I would say that Sir David falls into the bracket of being considered as the most prolific living inventor in Britain.

He would never admit to that, of course. He is an understated man who rarely gives interviews.

And few people know of Sir David’s charity work in Bristol.

Even at the age of 80, he is often at the Wotton Under Edge headquarters four days a week, and he is certainly not ostentatious. The last time I saw him he was driving a VW.

Born in Dublin, Sir David was keen on model planes as a boy and went to work for Bristol Aero Engines - later to become Rolls Royce at Filton.

At the age of 30, he became deputy chief designer and worked on the RB199 and Tornado fighter engines.

This was the start of the story of Renishaw.

A colleague came to him with a problem: they couldn’t make the fuel pipes for the Concorde engine because of the limitations 

with the existing measurement devices.

Over that weekend, Sir David worked on the idea in his garage in Bristol and on Monday presented them with the solution - a touch trigger probe.

Fifty years later, derivations of the original measuring probe are still in production.

I remember seeing Sir David at a Stroud District Council meeting about 14 years ago.

He was there to listen to a debate about affordable housing for young people. That was the measure of the man and the company.

They always put people first and were trailblazers of developing apprentices in Gloucestershire.

Whoever buys Renishaw will need to ensure that innovation and culture continues to flow through the company.

There is an amazing engineering legacy in Renishaw that simply must be nurtured.

Perhaps James Dyson is just the person to continue the Renishaw story?

Do you want to join the conversation?

Sign up here