Regional Scale-Up Report Gloucestershire: Growth warms up Cold Clad’s turnover

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Founded in 2007 by Jon Pitman, Tewkesbury-based Cold Clad designs and builds fire-rated enclosures and fire separation walls for industries from engineering and IT data centres to food production.

The company also builds temperature-controlled environments, building envelopes and fire-rated structures. Its technology comes from the controlled environment constructions industries where temperatures range upwards from -40°C.

For more than a decade before setting up the business, Jon built his knowledge working for other companies in the sector.

Cold Clad has expanded to meet rising demand for its design and installation services. Average growth over the last few years has been up to 30 per cent a year, with turnover rising to around £16 million.

“When we launched, we had a lot of support, and many of our projects are with repeat customers,” said Jon. “One particular customer in Manchester has consistently used our services and we work for them all over the UK.”

A big issue is attracting skilled people. “We are seen as a specialist construction company and recruitment can be a challenge, but we have a committed team who are our greatest asset.”

Jon is ambitious for his company, but does not intend to overstretch the business financially. “It’s about maintaining turnover and the good working relationships with the people we trade with,” he added.

The business continues to grow. With 32 permanent employees, around 100 contractors work for Cold Clad on up to 25 live projects at any one time.

“Our plan is to target 15-20 per cent annual growth for the next few years,” added Jon.

Brexit-planning drives diversification for Future Advanced

From its Staverton headquarters near Cheltenham, Future Advanced Manufacture turns ideas into highly engineered prototypes capable of scaled production.

Its CEO, Craig Petersen, joined the company in 2000 on the shop floor, and just eight years later he’d led a management buy-out of the business.

Over the last three years the business, which has 85 employees, has grown its turnover from £6.5 million to more than £15 million, and the company is on course to grow to a planned £20 million by 2025.

To combat any potential downturn due to Brexit, it has expanded globally. Future Advanced service equipment for the oil and gas markets is now exported to Russia, USA, Argentina, UAE and Saudi Arabia, resulting in 50 per cent of the company’s revenue come from outside the EU.

It has also successfully secured long-term agreements with a number of aerospace companies, including Safran and GE, and is approved to supply flight hardware to Rolls Royce.

Craig admits that potential Brexit threats helped him and his team to transform the business. “Any CEO who isn’t facing up to the issues by adopting diversification and mitigation strategies will struggle,” he said. However, he also knows that however prepared his company is, and his customers, problems at the borders could delay deliveries. “We are suggesting our clients stock up where possible in the short term.”

Despite anticipating a recession next year, which could be UK or global, Future Advanced is keeping to its planned targets.

“Ever since I took over 10 or so years ago, I’ve reinvested to keep us competitive. I don’t see that strategy changing and because of that, our clients want to grow their business with us. It’s great when your customers are fully supportive of your ambition and strategy.”

Why scale-ups are critical to the UK economy

“Scale-up businesses are some of the most important components in a growing economy. Their rapid growth breeds competition, innovation and job creation,” said Alex Cottrell, Gloucestershire Growth Hub Manager

“Gloucestershire is fortunate to have a healthy pool of ambitious firms, and at The Growth Hub we’ve been running a programme to support these companies, and encourage others to think like them, since 2017. We’ve hosted more than 25 sessions, helping more than 200 businesses with speakers from powerhouse firms like EY and Smith & Williamson.

“Designed to stimulate big topic conversations and drive positive immediate actions, our scale-up programme runs every month, and is open to all high-growth Gloucestershire companies.” www.thegrowthhub.biz

It’s Simplicity itself for HR sector as revenues rise for Forest business

The UK’s recruitment industry grew by 11 per cent to more than £35 billion last year, supported by nearly 35,000 businesses, from oneman (or woman) bands, to multimillion pound companies.

Here, at least, is one sector which doesn’t yet seem to have been affected by Brexit, or perhaps that’s the point. With fewer people from overseas able (or feeling welcome enough) to work in the UK, there’s more competition for the limited pool of UK skilled workforce, and more need for good recruitment agencies.

Simplicity in Business, based in the Forest of Dean, has built an £118 million turnover company supporting the sector. And it’s growing as fast as the 500 or so recruitment businesses it works with (which it refers to as partners). Typical partners employ up to 10 people and turn over up to £5 million annually.

Simplicity in Business acts like an invoice finance discounter specialising in the recruitment sector. As well as offering a comprehensive range of funding, it provides back office and technology services to help recruiters run their businesses more efficiently, compliantly and cost-effectively.

As a result, they have more time to look after their clients and seek new ones, leaving the financial and administrative management to the 70-strong team Mitcheldean-based Simplicity.

And the business has growth in its sights.

Director Jonathan Viney said: “We have recently invested around £3 million in new technology which gives even more support to our partners, and will allow us to widen our offer even further into the “Software as a Service” (SaaS) model.”

Simplicity’s technology includes a CRM system for its partners, and many more nice-to-have add-ons which they can take advantage of. All this will help Simplicity shape up for overseas expansion, which would certainly fit in with the company’s growth strategy. “We want to be turning over £200 million in 18 months’ time,” added Jonathan.