Wiltshire manufacturer sitting pretty after significant growth

Posted on 26 Oct 2015 by Callum Bentley

A Wiltshire manufacturer - specialising in the design and construction of seating for use in the commercial, education and healthcare sectors - has reported a 17% increase in turnover after re-shaping its business model.

Summit Chairs – which boast a £4.7m turnover and employs 50 people in Trowbridge – received support from the Business Growth Service after encountering problems with working methods following a move to a new factory.

Operations director at Summit Chairs, Alan Davies explained: “It was clear that if we wanted to meet our target of 15% year-on-year growth we needed to change how our workforce were operating, with factory staff working closer to the processes and becoming more involved in decision making.

“After attending a leadership event led by the Business Growth Service, we realised that they could support us in implementing improvements. Several of our staff enrolled on a leadership programme focused on developing their leadership skills and introducing them to process improvement tools and techniques.”

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Manufacturing experts from the Business Growth Service also provided support to Summit Chairs with an on-site project that reviewed the company’s planning processes.

Davies added: “It was like a lightbulb had been switched on. We realised we needed to be planning much further ahead of time in order to meet the unpredictable nature of our demand cycle.

“The leadership programme has helped us operate on a much more controlled basis at the coalface. As a result, we are implementing an ERP system for the first time to help us manage inventory control, sales order processing and planning.”

Business growth manager for Wiltshire, Andre Smague commented: “It is very rewarding to see the growth journey Summit Chairs has been on.

“It is a great example of a business committed to keeping its manufacturing local while still being flexible and responsive enough to meet changing customer requirements.”

The Business Growth Service helps businesses with the right level of ambition, capability and capacity to improve and grow. It brings together a broad range of expertise so that businesses can get the right advice and support to fulfil their growth potential.

The service includes support from GrowthAccelerator, the Manufacturing Advisory Service, design mentoring from the Design Council and Intellectual Property Audits from the Intellectual Property Office.

It also refers SME manufacturers to the right support provided by other agencies, including UK Trade & Investment, Innovate UK (including High Value Manufacturing Catapults), the British Business Bank, local Growth Hubs and UK Export Finance.