Carbs promote growth

2 March 2017

Burlen Ltd, the world’s only manufacturer of genuine SU (Skinners Union), AMAL and Zenith carburettors, fuel pumps and spares, is celebrating a record-breaking 2016 and continuing to demonstrate remarkable growth. The origins of the Salisbury-based company go back to 1971 when a partnership between John Burnett and Mike Cullen was formed and called Burlen Services; at that point, it was simply a garage workshop. The first real involvement in carburettors came in the 1974 fuel crisis when every customer wanted more miles to the gallon above all else. It was appointed official SU agents and Zenith Solex agents as well as a Weber dealer. It also co-operated with the then SU factory to ensure the continuation of some threatened products. The HS and HD carburettors are prime examples of two such products, as in the early Eighties the tooling for these was due to be scrapped. Burlen agreed to purchase a minimum quantity of these lines, which fortunately saved the day.


A further high point in the co-operation between Burlen and SU was a complicated joint venture involving both Saab and Volvo to rescue the bankrupt Solex UK IV and CD production lines in 1985/6. At the same time, the Burlen Fuel Systems Limited Company was formed, leaving the partnership trading with Morgan.


By 1987, the SU logo had been neglected for some years as the SU factory was known as ARG Fuel Systems. Burlen approached the factory and an agreement was reached to relaunch the SU and Zenith logos and liveries as they appear today.


Following many years of co-operation, Burlen now manufactures all SU carburettors and all SU Electric and mechanical fuel pumps and continue to manufacture the Zenith IV and CD carburettors.

It also continues to supply this service to vintage and classic car and motorcycle owners accross the globe, and proudly so.


Since the company came under the control of Mark, Jamie and Andy Burnett, it has experienced much greater growth. Last year it saw an annual turnover of £5.2 million, smashing its previous best records and its own start-of-year target in the process.


Throughout 2016, the company brought a large part of its machining operations in house to bring about more control over its products and more focus on what matters most to the consumer: quality, cost and availability.


A new management team combined with a more effective purchasing strategy has enabled the company to kick on and fulfil the brothers’ innovative and forward-thinking plans.


Burlen has installed Computer Numeric Control (CNC) machines in the workshop, including a milling machine that will carry out all operations on the AMAL Mk1 Concentric carburettor castings. Now thanks to record turnover, fresh organisation of staff and the installation of modern machinery, Burlen is on the lookout for new and experienced professionals to join the team.


There is a job opening for a skilled engineer with experience in traditional casting and machining techniques and knowledge of CAD design, 3D printing and additive manufacturing.


Off the back of a remarkable 2016, Burlen is gearing up for its most exciting year to date in 2017. It’s putting the final touches on a completely game-changing, innovative SU fuel injection system, which sees a fuel injection device work inside a carburettor. It is also set for several appearances at high-profile events on the automotive calendar, including Goodwood Revival and Beaulieu International Autojumble, where it will showcase the best of its SU, AMAL and Zenith products.


“We’re over the moon with our success in 2016 and the fantastic turnover we recorded,” said Mark Burnett, Burlen’s managing director. “We have an incredibly hard working team here in Salisbury and the figures are testament to just how strong a workforce they are. However, we’re definitely not standing still here – we are continuing to push on and look to the future, with lots of exciting things to come in 2017.”


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