43% turnover growth at auto-safety business as pandemic drives focus on welfare vehicles and logistics

Posted on 18 Aug 2021 by James Devonshire

A Leeds-based auto-engineering firm that installs accident-prevention safety systems for commercial vehicles has announced a significant revenue increase, as the COVID-19 pandemic drives focus on welfare vehicles and logistics.

SM UK announced a 43% increase in revenue for the 2020-21 financial year. Turnover rose to £7.7m in the 12 months to June 2021, from £5.4m the previous year, while the business also created 25 new jobs and improved the safety of 3,800 vehicles during that time.

The firm, which has seen a boom in demand from clients in the logistics sector, in part to comply with new vehicle safety legislation affecting HGVs travelling in Greater London, has this year also diversified into developing covid-safe welfare vehicles designed to protect workers on remote sites.

SM UK managing director Steve MacDonald, who founded the business in 2000, said: “Safety and protecting people is central to everything we do. Entering the welfare market earlier this year with our Yorkshire-built fleet of covid-safe vehicles has without doubt helped to drive growth for us.

SM UK managing director Steve MacDonald , general manager Jason Chesman, operations manager Dave Wilman. Image courtesy of SMUK.

SM UK managing director Steve MacDonald , general manager Jason Chesman, operations manager Dave Wilman. Image courtesy of SMUK.

“As so many employers have had to focus on ensuring staff working on highway maintenance, construction or other remote sites are safe, reducing exposure to the virus, we’re experiencing huge interest in our welfare vans. Due to a nationwide shortage of vans we have only been able to produce 30 vehicles this year, but we plan to step up production by around 500% to 20 vans a month in order to meet demand. 

Equipped with sanitising stations, toilet and kitchen facilities and seating, SM UK’s welfare vans are also fitted with a super-powerful lighting system to help avoid accidents by brightly illuminating the surrounding area.

The firm, which has announced plans to invest £4m in a new 35,000 sq ft Leeds headquarters and workshop, creating 30 new jobs later this year, has also seen increased demand for its safety system installations from its blue-chip logistics client base. In May it won a new £500,000, 230-vehicle installation contract for parcel delivery firm Tuffnells.

SM UK has also been awarded ‘Type Approval’ status by the Vehicle Certification Agency, which authorises SM UK to work on vehicles pre-registration, ensuring they are fully equipped from their first day on the road.

“We are really proud to have been part of the huge national effort to reduce the spread of covid and to help keep the country moving safely in the process,” said Mr MacDonald. “The extra demand for our services brought about by the pandemic has undoubtedly helped to generate growth for SM UK over the last 12 months. However, an increased focus on road safety has also created an appetite for our state-of-the-art safety installations. We are all about improving safety, whether that’s for drivers, other road users or staff working on sites, and that is fundamental to our success and what we hope will be our continued growth.”

SM UK employs 70 staff across its current Leeds HQ and a workshop in Tamworth.