Mexichem Fluor UK

A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by Mexichem Fluor UK's best practice article

The ability to listen and learn from one another has always been vital in parliament, in business and in most aspects of daily life. But at this particular moment in time, as national and global events continue to reiterate, it is uncommonly crucial that we forge new channels of communication and reinforce existing ones. The following article from Mexichem Fluor UK is an attempt to do just that. We would welcome your thoughts on this or any other Parliamentary Review article.

Blunkett signature Rt Hon The Lord David Blunkett
Pickles signature Rt Hon The Lord Eric Pickles

Highlighting best practice
Dave Smith, business director,
Mexichem Fluor Business Group
Medical propellant drums
ready for dispatch
Mexichem Fluor UK has a long and admirable history
within the chemical sector. With production assets in
the US, the UK and Japan, it serves customers across
the Americas, Europe and the Middle and Far East. It started life
as a fluorochemical business unit working within the major UK
chemical giant ICI and was then acquired in 2000 by INEOS. Ten
years later, the unit was bought by the Mexichem Fluor Business
Group. Although it has a Mexican parent company, its business
activity is still headquartered and operating from their original
site in Runcorn, Cheshire, where their global activities and
commercial hub run together with their R&D and engineering
wings. David Smith, business director, discusses how the
200-strong Mexichem Fluor UK team is leading the charge in
the fluorochemical sector.
Fluorochemical terminology might not mean much to many people, so, in a
nutshell, we make refrigerants and medical propellants. These products are used
in a number of sectors; for example, we serve a spectrum of cooling applications
ranging from automotive air conditioning through to supermarket refrigerators
and freezers to blood banks that ensure vital supplies of blood and other related
medical materials are kept at the correct temperatures. Our products are also
essential for energy-efficient heating systems that make use of heat pumps, a
technology that has been identified as a key contributor to managing the country’s
energy consumption. Our products are at the core of almost every application
where temperature needs to be controlled in an energy-efficient manner, not
»Business director: David Smith
»Acquired by Mexichem in
»Based in Runcorn, Cheshire
»Services: Fluorochemical
manufacture and supply
»No. of employees: Over 200
»Previously owned by ICI and
Mexichem Fluor UK
only as refrigerants but also as foam-
blowing agents that provide safe
and efficient thermal insulation for
buildings and appliances.
Our medical propellants, manufactured
from our site in Runcorn to the high
standards required of pharmaceutical
products, are used in around 75 per
cent of the world’s asthma inhalers.
They provide safe and effective delivery
for a number of life-saving and life-
enhancing drugs to over 100 million
inhaler users globally.
Safety for all stakeholders
At the core of our business activity
is a set of values encompassed
by the phrase “safety, health and
environment”. We create safe
end products, but, to do that, we
must execute a variety of chemical
manufacturing and handling processes.
We ensure, for our employees,
neighbours and customers, that these
operations are safe. This has been an
enduring priority under the ownership
of Mexichem, INEOS and ICI.
One of our chemical plants has been
operating for 28 years without a single
injury to any employee. We’re proud
of our performance and of the fact
that our operations don’t harm any of
our stakeholders or anyone related to
Growth in innovation
Our potential for growth is directly
linked to our innovation. One example
of such innovation is in the area of
medical propellants; while we estimate
that around 100 million active users
of inhalers utilise the propellant we
manufacture in Cheshire, we are
always looking for opportunities to
improve our products. We are currently
focused on the development of a
new medical propellant that has the
potential to have a 90 per cent lower
environmental impact, all the while
providing improved drug delivery for
these inhalers.
Ensuring that any new medical product
has the qualities required from the
perspective of both the end-user and
the environment is an expensive and
time-consuming process, and has
necessitated an investment in research
that is not insignificant, but one that
positions us as a global leader in the
long term.
Global competition and
environmental concerns
We face intense competition from all
around the world, especially China.
The market situation challenged
us to reorganise our cost base and
improve efficiencies when it came
to operations, so that we could
remain both competitive globally
and sustainable in the longer term.
As a result of some restructuring, we
are now in an improved competitive
position against China and elsewhere,
and are benefiting from enhanced
commercial conditions; this change has
resulted in a significant recovery in UK
operational performance.
The products that we manufacture
now were born out of a response
Mexichem production
plant, Runcorn
Our medical
from our site in
Runcorn to the
high standards
required of
products, are
used in around
75 per cent of
the world’s
asthma inhalers
Highlighting best practice
to the Montreal Protocol and
global concern with regards to
chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs); the
products we ship today, as a result,
do not cause any ozone damage.
They are also highly energy-efficient
in their particular applications, but
do have some direct global warming
potential. We are, therefore, investing
in research, and looking to supply a
new generation of refrigerants and
medical propellants that retain their
effectiveness while carrying a materially
diminished carbon footprint.
Research, the STEM gap and
Governmental research and
development tax relief has encouraged
us to develop the intellectual property
that we have become renowned for
globally. Although this mechanism has
had a massive impact, for us, positive
development is reliant on having the
right people. It’s about their ability,
their knowledge and their capability.
The investments we make require
UK universities to provide capable
scientists and engineers for companies
like ours, and it’s these functions that
drive us forward.
As a result, we’re naturally slightly
concerned about the STEM gap, so
we engage with local schools and
colleges, and run a scholarship scheme
with the University of Manchester.
We have found the talent pool to be
adequate thus far, but we don’t want
it todwindle.
In areas such as this, and when
it comes to our environmental or
legislative concerns, we have been
consistently proactive in engaging
and communicating with the
appropriate communities and bodies.
As a company operating on an
international platform, Brexit remains
a major concern with regards to the
continued uncertainty, especially
when considering our future trading
relationships. Contingency planning
adds significant expense to our
operational cost base, and it is hard
to be clear whether the steps we
have taken thus far in mitigation will
be effective, given the overall lack
Where now?
Our future is grounded in two distinct
paths. The first is following through
on our investment in research and
development with regards to medical
propellants, then commercialising
any product that may come about
as a result. We want to look more
closely at the pharmaceutical sector
and play a greater role in this arena
More broadly, however, we want to
look at that success as a stepping
stone to broadening our activity
outside of refrigerants and propellants.
Fluorine is used in many different
components, and we want to expand
our portfolio and look at future
investments. These may or may not
be in the UK, but, whatever happens,
we can be sure that the drive for
further research in new sectors will
nonetheless be grounded in our
We want to
look at our
success as a
stepping stone
to broadening
our activity
outside of
Medical propellant

This article was sponsored by Mexichem Fluor UK. The Parliamentary Review is wholly funded by the representatives who write for it. The publication in which this article originally appeared contained the following foreword from The Rt Hon Theresa May MP.

The Rt Hon Theresa May MP's Foreword For The Parliamentary Review

By The Rt Hon Theresa May MP

This foreword from the then Prime Minister appeared in the 2018/19 Parliamentary Review.

British politics provides ample material for analysis in the pages of The Parliamentary Review. For Her Majesty’s Government, our task in the year ahead is clear: to achieve the best Brexit deal for Britain and to carry on our work to build a more prosperous and united country – one that truly works for everyone. 

The right Brexit deal will not be sufficient on its own to secure a more prosperous future for Britain. We also need to ensure that our economy is ready for what tomorrow will bring. Our Modern Industrial Strategy is our plan to do that. It means Government stepping up to secure the foundations of our productivity: providing an education system that delivers the skills our economy needs, improving school standards and transforming technical education; delivering infrastructure for growth; ensuring people have the homes they need in the places they want to live. It is all about taking action for the long-term that will pay dividends in the future.

But it also goes beyond that. Government, the private sector and academia working together as strategic partners achieve far more than we could separately. That is why we have set an ambitious goal of lifting UK public and private research and development investment to 2.4 per cent of GDP by 2027. It is why we are developing four Grand Challenges, the big drivers of social and economic change in the world today: harnessing artificial intelligence and the data revolution; leading in changes to the future of mobility; meeting the challenges of our ageing society; and driving ahead the revolution in clean growth. By focusing our efforts on making the most of these areas of enormous potential, we can develop new exports, grow new industries and create more good jobs in every part of our country.

Years of hard work and sacrifice from the British people have got our deficit down by over three quarters. We are building on this success by taking a balanced approach to public spending. We are continuing to deal with our debts, so that our economy can remain strong and we can protect people’s jobs, and at the same time we are investing in vital public services, like our NHS. We have set out plans to increase NHS funding annually by an average by 3.4 percent in real terms: that is £394 million a week more. In return, the NHS will produce a ten-year plan, led by doctors and nurses, to eliminate waste and improve patient care.

I believe that Britain can look to the future with confidence. We are leaving the EU and setting a new course for prosperity as a global trading nation. We have a Modern Industrial Strategy that is strengthening the foundations of our economy and helping us to seize the opportunities of the future. We are investing in the public services we all rely on and helping them to grow and improve. Building on our country’s great strengths – our world-class universities and researchers, our excellent services sector, our cutting edge manufacturers, our vibrant creative industries, our dedicated public servants – we can look towards a new decade that is ripe with possibility. The government I lead is doing all it can to make that brighter future a reality for everyone in our country. 

British politics provides ample material for analysis in the pages of The Parliamentary Review 
The Rt Hon Theresa May MP
Prime Minister