SMS Group

Published 16 June 2022

The SMS Group was historically a traditional ship repairer based in Lowestoft, centred around workshops, machine shops, 100m of quayside and a 75m dry dock – the UK’s most Easterly dry dock.  The business is currently transitioning into the renewables and energy space in East Anglia, whilst focussing on the ‘life time’ value of existing commercial relationships – which provide the core, underlying, revenue stream for the company.

The SMS Group is a multi-disciplined marine engineering services provider, with a service offering of structural expertise (in steel, aluminium, mixed / dissimilar metals and pipe) coupled with manufacturing, and mechanical and electrical engineering. This existing portfolio of capabilities will complement the renewables and energy sectors – particularly as they move locally from the installation phase into sustainable operations.

The Fit 4 Offshore Renewables Journey

In order to become more competitive in the offshore renewables industry, The SMS Group took part in ORE Catapult’s Fit 4 Offshore Renewables (F4OR) programme as part of a cohort of businesses in the ‘New Anglia’ region. An initial assessment was made and support provided across the programme’s two key strands – the first, focused on core business management systems, and the second, focused on key competences required for success in the offshore renewable energy industry.

James Grala-Wojrezyk, Regional Manager East Coast of SMS, said:

“F4OR helped SMS mature at a more advanced pace into the renewables and energy field. The programme was able to facilitate the connections, and the ‘community feel’ – and clearly assisted in directing the businesses strategy as we focused our efforts on meeting key milestones with the programme.  Their ‘can do’ attitude, and willingness to thoroughly understand our business genuinely helped.”

SMS has  benefitted from the F4OR initiative, with an improved network within the offshore renewables sector and a level of credibility to develop new and existing relationships with the F4OR granted status.

James added:

“We’re on a measurable journey of self-improvement, and, perhaps most importantly, this definitive diversification is positively impacting our bottom-line.  We’re obviously also seeing increased awareness of The SMS Group not only locally but also nationally – and most interestingly we’re being referenced in the renewables and energy space as well as the marine space.”

Business Success

By taking part in the F4OR programme, SMS has seen real, quantifiable, successes.  It has docked over a dozen CTV’s (crew transfer vessels) / WFSV (wind farm support vessels) and has begun a programme of ‘double-dockings’ that is delivering better value for money and enhanced economies of scale to its customers.

SMS also moved into a service and maintenance type of contract to support energy specific floating assets. It has undertaken bespoke manufacturing and begun exploring the support of offshore wind turbines with SQEP (suitable qualified experienced persons) from a survey, repair and maintenance perspective.  To date, SMS has estimated that this has resulted in circa six new hires, with future growth on the near-term horizon.

James added:

“F4OR, as part of SMS’ own sales and marketing drive into the sector has definitely helped grow the business; by the end of this trading year the renewables and energy sector will probably account for circa 15% of our sales – with this likely to increase to 25% in the coming 24 months.”

Double-docking in Lowestoft: Photo courtesy of Colin Turner, Turner Photography

The Future

The support from the F4OR programme places The SMS Group on a strong competitive footing to win more work in the offshore renewable energy industry. It will enable the company to continue its planned expansion, and its diversification into the energy sector – whilst at the same time giving SMS the required credibility, and foresight to extend its commercial offering.


Andrew Stormonth-Darling

Andrew Stormonth-Darling

Principal Portfolio Manager – Floating Wind