When the German supplier of the distinctive, swooping aluminium pillars on Peugeot’s RCZ sports coupé went into administration [bankruptcy] last year, Peugeot found a replacement right here in the UK.

Gloucester-based Sapa Components, part of the Swedish Sapa Group, stepped in and developed in less than six months what would normally have taken 24 months.

“It was touch and go and came when we had been badly hit by the downturn in the car industry last year,” said Sapa Pressweld anodising manager Richard Shaw.

“We had to ship in staff from other Sapa sites across Europe to help out until we could recruit local staff.”

Sapa, which has been in Gloucester for over 40 years, has now recruited an extra 40 staff taking the workforce to 140 and is producing 100 pairs of pillars a day.

It’s the biggest single automotive component made by the company that also supplies Bentley, Aston Martin, Jaguar and Land Rover in the UK.

“About 80% or our business is automotive and this order – our first with Peugeot – accounts for about 20% of that,” said Shaw.

The parts are shipped by rail twice a week to the Magna Steyr factory in Graz, Austria, which is ramping up to build 17,000 RCZs a year for Peugeot.

Sapa, a specialist in aluminium extrusion, also supplies the white goods [home appliances] industry.

The RCZ is the first of what Peugeot is calling its Hors Serie – a distinctive range of cars that will be based on existing platforms; the RCZ sits on Peugeot’s Platform 2 that also underpins the 308. The cars will be distinguished by not having Peugeot’s traditional ‘0’ as part of their name.

These new models are among a number of product plans that Peugeot hopes will lift it from the world’s 10th largest carmaker to seventh. These plans include developing market-specific models such as the 408, designed and built in China for that market, and the Hoggar, the locally-developed, Brazilian-built pick-up truck primarily for domestic sales and export to neighbouring Latin American countries.