Brickendonbury, UK – Tun Abdul Razak Research Centre (TARRC) has undergone a major downsizing, which has seen the workforce at its Brickedonbury facility cut to 30 employees, from 74 about a year ago.
And, as detailed in its 2019 annual report – filed 29 Sept at the UK’s Companies House – following a year-long restructuring programme to this April, TARRC is expected to become financially self-sufficient within three years.
With a 20-strong technical team backed by 10 administration staff, TARRC will now focus on just two areas: sustainable NR-based materials and products; and engineering applications.
Long regarded as one of the world’s foremost rubber research centres, the cutbacks at TARRC are linked to austerity measures in Malaysia.
Government spending cuts in Malaysia have curbed the ability of TARRC parent, the Malaysian Rubber Board, to fund its UK-based R&D and promotion centre, located 30 miles north of London.
Even before the Covid pandemic, the public-spending restrictions prompted MRB to reclassify its financial contribution to TARRC from grant to ‘deficit funding’ – essentially a 25-year loan.
For 2019, TARRC reported a 7.4% decline in sales to £1.29 million (€1.41 million), while cost-of-sales stood at just under £2.9 million. Last year saw a ‘total deficit’ for the business of £3.26 million, similar to the level recorded in the previous year.
Nevertheless, Rubber Consultants turnover increased 11.2% in 2019 to £1.12 million, from materials-characterisation, product-evaluation and testing services for sectors including tires, automotive, aerospace, medical and construction.
In 2019, the UK remained TARRC’s biggest market, with sales of £826,000, slightly under the prior-year levels. Sales to the ‘rest of the world’ more than halved to £73,000, while the European market gained slightly last year.