Smiths specialises in medical equipment and security detectors Peter Chadwick/Flickr

British engineering technology firm Smiths Group has appointed Andrew Reynolds Smith as its new chief executive.

Reynolds Smith, currently the CEO of GKN Automotive, will replace Philip Bowman on 25 September, the company said in a statement.

Smiths, the world's largest maker of security detectors, has been struggling to grow revenues over the past year as government spending cuts have hit its state contracts.

"I am absolutely delighted that we have attracted someone of Andrew's calibre as our new chief executive," Smiths chairman Sir George Buckley said.

"Andrew has almost 20 years' experience running large, complex global industrial engineering operations with a track record of delivering turnarounds and above market growth rates.

"Smiths will greatly benefit from his engineering insight and leadership skills."

Reynolds Smith has managed GKN Automotive, a manufacturer of vehicle driveline systems and powder metal parts, since 2002. He has previously held senior management roles at Ingersoll Rand and Delphi Automotive Systems.

"I'm very pleased and have a great feeling about this appointment. Smiths is a very special company with high quality global businesses and an enviable heritage of quality engineering and innovation," Reynolds Smith said.

Buckley thanked exiting CEO Bowman, who announced his retirement in December after eight years at the helm, for his service.

"[Bowman] has delivered improved margins, cash and returns despite difficult trading conditions in one of the worst economic recessions in living memory," he said.

"There is no doubt he leaves the business in substantially better shape than when he joined."

Smiths Group comprises five divisions: Smiths Detection, Smiths Medical, John Crane, Smiths Interconnect and Flex-Tek.

The company, which started out as a watch-making business in London in 1851, has operations in over 50 countries, and employs over 23,000 staff.