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Melba Swintex gets the green light for expansion


Melba Swintex is a leading manufacturer of temporary traffic management equipment. Using plastic moulding technology, it produces cones, barriers, signs and ramps for local authorities and the construction industry in the UK and internationally including exports to Australia, Canada and Hong Kong. 

The challenge:

Melba Swintex was looking to break into international markets with a new export strategy as it was proving increasingly difficult to drive domestic sales. It also had a raft of new product ideas but the management team was unsure how to prioritise them and successfully take them to market.

The business also wanted to explore the feasibility of expanding their existing site, or possibly move to new local premises.

The solution:


On her first visit, one of the Hub’s growth advisors, Tracy Eyres, completed a full review of the company and although the business was trading well, with an annual turnover of £13 million, she was able to make a number of recommendations.

Melba Swintex finance director, Paul Harrison, explains: “I must admit I was sceptical at first and unsure about what the Business Growth Hub could really do for us. But the support they have offered has been superb, particularly the way they can link up businesses and other organisations.”

Tracey initially worked with the company’s management team to prioritise specific products which had stalled at the planning stage, but this just proved to be the start of things.

Paul was then introduced to Bolton University’s mechanical engineering department and UCLAN’s School of Art Design and Performance in Preston. This led to a joint-venture, with University students working on designs for a new street bin to be manufactured by Melba Swintex, while in return Paul is able to offer them an important link to industry.

Tracy also helped the business successfully apply for a grant from the Greater Manchester Export Fund to help them to develop a new prototype for a road traffic cylinder for use on the continent. The finance paid for new machinery, Research &Development, and marketing and doubled its exports to 20% of overall turnover.

The business worked with the Hub’s environmental specialists too, who as well as carrying out an energy efficiency audit on the business, completed a carbon footprint assessment.

As Paul explains: “Quite often, when we look at tenders, one of the questions we need to answer is about our carbon footprint and we don’t have that sort of information.

“We’d considered sending someone on a course so they could work it out for us but, instead, one of the Hub’s environmental specialists carried it out at no cost to us, which means we’ll be able to go for work that was out of reach beforehand.”

The final area where the Hub has supported the business is in the hunt for new premises in the local area. 

“We’re simply running out of space,” adds Paul. “But in order to increase production, we need to expand.”

He adds: “Tracy was excellent at helping us get a better idea of what else is available in Bury, but also whether there would be any objection from the council if we expanded our existing site.”

A planning application to extend their site was approved by Bury Council, which the business anticipated would lead to the creation of 10 new jobs.

However, because sales increased so dramatically, a second planning application is currently being submitted to extend the factory even further.

Paul has also attended a series of seminars on employment law to ensure the company is complying with new legislation and best practise.

In fact, a number of elements of best practice are part of the business’s fabric, highlighted in their commitment to supporting all their employees through Training & Development and Reward schemes. 

One of the areas that Melba Swintex is passionate about is finding the right talent for the business and providing “good” jobs by adequately remunerating employees. As such, Melba Swintex is proud to pay all employees above Living Wage standards – in fact, employees at the factory earn £9 p/h on average.

Overall, the work has helped to safeguard 125 jobs at the company and lay the foundation for further expansion.

The company’s turnover has risen from £12.6m in 2016 to £16m in 2017, with profits in the same period almost doubling to over £2.1m. In this time employment has increased to 161 employees on-site.  

The Hub has a range of services to support businesses of all types and sizes, including support to help you find new markets and export. Are you ready to succeed? Take the next step and Enquire and Grow today. 

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