The company, which traces its origins back to 1740, has been trying to shake off a reputation for being old-fashioned and overweight, with too many staff and facilities and a bloated product range. The appointment of a new chief executive in September 2001 sparked a restructuring drive and a change in culture at the firm, which now claims to be well on the way to completing a transformation into a leaner, more forward-thinking outfit.
In recent months Whatman has sold off its Hemasure and Fitzco units and liquidated its German subsidiary Biometra Biomedizinische Analytik in order to improve its operating profit. It has also been trimming back its staff, facilities and product lines, and the divestment of the filter cartridge business finishes the product reduction effort, according to CEO Tim Coombs. The deal is due to complete on 18 December.
Meantime, a manufacturing facility in Ann Arbor in the US has been closed, while its Parkwood unit in the UK will also shut down during the first quarter of next year.
The company now expects operating profit to be at the upper end of analysts' expectations for 2003, although the effect of the weak US dollar will peg back revenues to slightly below the £90 million (€127m) achieved in 2002.
Whatman has also strengthened its management team with two senior appointments in the sales and marketing function. Earlier this month, Thomas Wanbaugh joined the company as vice president, North American sales, while Jarne Elleholm has been appointed vice president, European sales.