Expliseat, a French manufacturer of lightweight aircraft seats, has raised €17 million (US$18.8m) of capital investment, which will be used to build a new factory, advance its product development, expand its customer base, and enter new transportation markets.
The investment has been given by the SPI fund (Sociétés de Projets Industriels), managed on behalf of the State by Bpifrance within the framework of France 2030, Go Capital, NCI and an existing Expliseat shareholder, BNP Paribas Développement.
Expliseat began operations in 2011 when it gained EASA approval and has since launched various titanium economy-class seat models, including the TiSeat (around 4.6kg/pax), with more than 10,000 seats delivered to clients in regions including North America, India and China. In 2019 the company expanded its assembly line in Toulouse to take capacity to 25,000 seats per year, and in 2021 it entered the A320 BFE (buyer-furnished equipment) catalogue.
This funding round will enable Expliseat to expand its industrial capacity (beyond that of its Toulouse and Zhuhai assembly lines) and take more orders. A new 6,000 square meter site will be built in Angers, France, integrated with digital manufacturing technologies to enable a production capacity of 25,000 seats per year, expandable to 37,000 seats per year.
Expliseat also plans to triple its workforce in Paris and Angers, with a view to accelerating sales in new markets and support the industrial development of new products. The company currently has around 30 employees, 80% of whom are engineers. Expliseat plans to recruit around 50 new staff over the next 18 months.
The company is also aiming to diversify its product range, targeting electric-powered public transport where customers are seeking to offset the weight of their energy-storage technologies (mainly rail, coaches and marine).
“This fundraising comes at a key moment and allows Expliseat to begin a new chapter, on the strength of the solid foundations acquired during the first 12 years of its history,” said Amaury Barberot , the company’s new chairman and CEO, appointed in July 2022.
“This financing allows us to propel ourselves into these new flagship markets that are very keen on technological solutions serving the environment and passenger transport. And it is also a great opportunity for Expliseat to afford a leading industrial site in France. This will facilitate the long-term development of commercial activities in new segments and the pursuit of R&D efforts.”
Yves Guiol, associate director of the NCI fund, explained the company’s investment in Expliseat : “Lightening vehicles is a fundamental lever for decarbonising mobility. Expliseat has a patented technology that has proven itself internationally in aeronautics, an industry that is not very accessible to start-ups. We are very happy to support its diversification into land mobility with our NCITY accelerator fund dedicated to the city of tomorrow.”