Essex Life - - RICHEST 50 -

In­dus­try 2018: £60m 2017: £80m (41=)

Christo­pher John­son’s Cas­tle­don business slipped into a £3m loss in 2016, although sales hit a record £87.5m. The loss was at­trib­uted to the ef­fect of a strength­en­ing dol­lar on the Southend Air­port-based com­pany’s prof­its. It re­mains in a strong po­si­tion with nearly £43m net as­sets. The business was started by Christo­pher’s fa­ther Al­lan, who worked at the air­port and no­ticed pi­lots were tak­ing time off due to back and leg prob­lems caused by un­com­fort­able sit­ting po­si­tions on long flights. He was in­spired to de­sign a seat with ad­justable lum­bar and leg sup­port, and es­tab­lished IPE (In­dus­trial Pre­ci­sion Equip­ment) to man­u­fac­ture the seats for pi­lots, co-pi­lots, nav­i­ga­tors and engi­neers in 1961. The com­pany’s big break was in per­suad­ing Lufthansa, the Ger­man air­line, to spec­ify Ipeco seats in the mid-1970s, after which or­ders from Boe­ing be­gan to roll in. We clip the value of Cas­tle­don (IPE’s par­ent) back to £50m. We add £10m to the John­son fam­ily for other as­sets, past div­i­dends and salaries.

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