VT Group

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The VT Group has its roots in two shipbuilders, Vosper and Thornycroft, who both started out in the late 19th Century. The two companies merged in 1966, and twenty years later Vosper Thornycroft was floated on the London Stock Exchange. [1] It is a partner of Strategic Communication Laboratories.

In 2002 the Company changed its name to become VT Group plc – a move driven by the Company’s successful diversification programme, which has seen VT become a major player in the civil and defence support services markets. [2]

Another development of the equipment support capability was in the field of communications. In 1997, VT and its partner, Mantech, won the contract to provide engineering and logistic support to the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) at Cheltenham. This capability was further enhanced with the acquisition of Merlin Communications in 2001. [3]


  • Paul Lester - Chief Executive: Before becoming Chief Executive of VT Group in 2002, Lester was Group Managing Director of Balfour Beatty plc, the international engineering, construction and services group. Other previous apppointments include Chief Executive of Graseby plc, the electronics instrument group and senior management positions in Schlumberger and the Dowty Group plc. Lester has an Honours degree in Mechanical Engineering and a Diploma in Management Studies. He was President of the Engineering Employers Federation from 2000 to 2003 and currently sits on the Advisory Board of Alchemy, the venture capitalists and is a non-executive director of Civica plc
  • Chris Cundy - Group Commercial Director: In 1985 Cundy worked in KPMG’s Brussels office with responsibility for its multinational clients. On his return to Southampton in 1989, he was responsible for a number of Plc audits particularly in the Defence and Contracting fields. In 1993 he joined VT as Group Accountant with particular involvement in the Group’s acquisition activities and development of its Support Service business. Following successful contract awards to Flagship Training and Fleet Support, Cundy became Finance Director in November 1997 and became a board member in 1999 before being appointed Commercial Director in January 2006.
  • John Davies - Managing Director, VT Support Services: Spent 3 years in private legal practice, subsequently moving to industry within the commercial department of BAe Systems at Warton, as part of the Harrier upgrade team and involved in bidding international projects. Joined Bombardier in 1993 and was subsequently appointed Commercial Director for Bombardier Defence Services, during which time he secured several major MoD outsourcing projects including the RAF’s Pathfinder PFI project. Following the acquisition of Bombardier Defence Services by VT Group in 2000 John was appointed Managing Director of VT Aerospace and was subsequently appointed MD of VT Support Services, a £280 million Division comprising 3000 personnel. He was appointed to VT Groups General Executive Committee in 2006.
  • Matthew Jowett - General Counsel
  • Chris Rickard - Finance Director
  • Jo Robbins - Group Human Resources Director
  • Geoff Smith - Managing Director, VT Shipbuilding
  • Ken Smith - Chief Executive Officer, VT Griffin
  • Simon Tarrant - Executive Director
  • Doug Umbers - Managing Director, VT Communications
  • Simon Withey - Managing Director, VT Education and Skills [4]


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  1. 'Corporate History', VT Group website, accessed 30 April, 2009.
  2. 'Corporate History', VT Group website, accessed 30 April, 2009.
  3. 'History timeline - The development of today’s capabilities', VT Group website, accessed 30 April, 2009.
  4. 'VT Group - Board of Directors', VT Group website, accessed 30 April, 2009.
  5. 'VT Group plc', Defence Manufacturers Association website, accessed 30 April, 2009.