Glasgow defence firm earns royal approval

A major defence contractor in Glasgow has been given a royal seal of approval.

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Govan-based Thales Optronics has been honoured for beating global competition to secure export orders worth tens of millions of pounds.

The production plant is this year's winner of the Queen's Award for Enterprise after selling more than £100million worth of military equipment to foreign buyers during the last three years.

The export drive was so successful that the custom-built city site in Linthouse Road saw foreign orders more than double over a 36-month period which has helped bring long-term jobs security to hundreds of workers.

The plant specialises in development and manufacture of optronic-led products such as hi-tech binoculars used by frontline soldiers, laser rangefinders and infra-red thermal cameras.

Many of these products were exported to countries around the world such as Norway, Sweden, Italy, USA, Canada, South Africa, Australia and Japan.

The defence industry is big business and the Glasgow site secured big money export deals despite fierce competition from international rivals.

Managing director Stuart Boulton accepted the award which was presented by Lord Provost Bob Winter in his role as Lord Lieutenant of Glasgow on behalf the Queen.

He said: "In the current economic climate, it is great news that a Glasgow company like Thales is being recognised with this prestigious award.

"For more than 120 years, Thales has had a base in Glasgow and we are delighted to see this company and its staff still remain at the top of their field both nationally and internationally.

"Thales has won the Queen's Award for Enterprise in the category of international trade, for more than doubling its overseas revenues over three years. This is a truly magnificent achievement."

Mr Boulton told more than 750 workers and guests: "We are deeply honoured to receive the 2011 Queen's Award for Enterprise.

"It recognises the collective achievement and skills of our staff not only here in Glasgow, but also at our other sites in the UK.

"Thales UK is extremely proud of its ongoing contributution to Scotland's rich engineering heritage."

The plant is part of the French-owned Thales Group which is one of the world's biggest defence contractors. Thales Optronics was previously known as Barr & Stroud Ltd, a leading Scots engineering firm which was first launched 123 years ago in Glasgow.

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