Establish in 1968 HV Wooding Limited is a manufacturer of precision metal parts and sub-assemblies, based in Hythe Kent we are employing 100 people with a sales turnover of £12.5 million.
The business has gone through substantial growth over recent years, growing 18% in the financial year ending 5th April 2012 and we are forecasting further growth of 10% this year. As a sub-contractor we are producing parts for a diverse range of industry sectors, many of these are highly competitive market places and subject to Global competition.
At this point in time we are experiencing growth in several areas of the economy, we have major investment plans to redevelop our manufacturing areas, to invest in plant and new technologies. We are looking forward with optimism, despite the concerns around a double dip recession we will be investing over £2 million over the next 2 years.
One of the fundamental needs in modern day manufacturing for most organisations is to have a vision, a strategy of continuously developing the business model to meet industry needs. Our success has been largely down to identifying where we believe we have the opportunities and then focusing on understanding the needs of the sector in terms of logistics, technology, supply chain, skills and equipment.
There are many examples of businesses in the UK that have had successful periods and then they go out of business or suffer decline as the market changes, maybe they are no longer competitive or have not kept up with technological change. The important point is that industry is changing and to be successful you must recognise these changes and move the business forward and create a sustainable model, manufacturing is global and the strategy needs to consider what is going on all over the world.
In Kent we are seeing some Government initiatives around Regional funding, this is very much welcomed to help support investment and create jobs, however there is a very real need for Government to have a focus around industrial strategy. I have experienced this first hand in Singapore, the government recognised they had a growing cost base and moved the economy from a predominantly labour intensive manufacturing base to one of high end manufacturing, R&D and new technologies. They provided the platform that encouraged major organisations to invest and Singapore focused on providing the education and skills to fill this changing market and meet the needs of these new technologies.
A clear Industrial strategy from the Government is essential in order to fully take advantage of opportunities, we need to encourage investment from overseas and provide the stability and incentives for industry to support this activity.
An interesting sector at the moment is Renewable Energy, in the next few years we are going to see substantial growth in the Offshore Wind Turbine market around UK shores. We have already seen major Wind Turbine manufactures such as Vestas, GE Energy, Siemens, Mitsubishi and Gamesa either commit to investment in the UK or express a high level of intent. The logistics of the new Offshore Turbines necessitates them to be manufactured locally and therefore all these companies want a location at a deep water port near to the point of installation.
As a country we have the opportunity to become the World leader in this area, if these companies establish manufacturing in the UK there is a high likelihood that they would use this as their base to deliver large offshore Turbines across the seas of northern Europe and Scandinavia. A whole new industry creating major employment in construction and manufacturing, we need to grasp this opportunity and ensure these businesses commit to the UK for the medium term.
We are currently working with CERN, they are conducting experiments around particle acceleration and this activity is funded through European Governments, the UK is one of the largest contributors. The components and sub-assemblies we supply are complex and made to exacting tolerances, this business has grown over the last 2 years and we have been able to invest in 2 state of the art CNC Machines (£300k) to support this business.
During the period 2007 – 2010 the UK contribution to CERN were in the region of £450 million, however the business generated by UK suppliers was only 25% of our entitlement. This equates to approx. £68 million of potential business that could have come to the UK creating highly skilled jobs, investment and security. Over the same period Switzerland generated 5 times their entitlement and France twice their entitlement, both of these Governments have been instrumental in creating the awareness of this opportunity in their respective countries.
The examples of the Wind Industry sector and CERN we believe illustrate the benefits of having a clearly defined strategy where Industry and Government can work together to clearly identify the sectors and technologies of the future. This needs to be fluid, regularly reviewed and evaluated to ensure the focus is on developing and encouraging new technologies, innovation, investment and employment for now and for the future.